I concocted this Chicken Riggies Recipe after eating it at the Hotel Utica in Utica, NY. Chicken Riggies is a local creation– a very yummy creation– in Utica, NY. “Riggies” is the local slang for rigatoni pasta. Here in Central New York, there are a lot of Italians and, therefore, we have a lot of terrific Italian recipes. I am not Italian, but I grew up in an Italian home in an Italian area of NY. So, I cook a lot of Italian dishes. Here’s one of my recipes. I initially posted this on my New York Traveler blog, where it was Stumbled and was plastered all over the Internet.
As with a lot of Italian dishes, the ingredients are largely “a little this” and “a little that.” That’s how I cook. Chicken Riggies is a chicken and tomato cream sauce with sherry. If you like creamier sauces, add more cream; if you like a spicier dish, add more cherry peppers; etc. This is a great recipe to experiment with, because you can do so much with it. Here’s how I like it (which is: less creamy, more tomato-y, and less saucy).
Feeds an army or 3 to 4 Italians
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 3 or 4 hot cherry peppers (from the jar), seeded and chopped (add less or more if you are a glutton for punishment)
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 2 cans (28 oz. or so) diced tomatoes
- 4 leaves freshly chopped basil, or 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup sherry (optional; I always add it)
- 4 to 5 chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces*
- salt to taste
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup light cream (depending on taste)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (optional)
- 2 1-lb. boxes of penne rigati or rigatoni
* I usually pre-boil the chicken breasts for about 15 minutes, just as they are turning tender. However, in the summer, I grill a few extra chicken breasts, cube them, and freeze them specifically for this recipe. I simply pull them out when it’s Chicken Riggies time. The grill flavor really comes out for this dish.
But today I pre-boiled the chicken. Dice them up. Toss them in a large wok (or other large pan) with the olive oil, diced onion, and chopped garlic. Cook gently until the onion turns tender. Don’t allow the chopped garlic to brown!
While that’s cooking, mince a few pickled cherry peppers. I’m not too fond of lava-intensity dinners, so I only add 2 cherry peppers. I usually de-seed them, but if I am feeling wild and crazy, I toss a few seeds in for kick. Again, this is one of the many ingredients you can customize- add more or less according to your taste. After you’ve minced them, toss them into your wok.
Now add the tomato paste and cans of tomatoes. Throw in your spices. I’m nuts about basil, so I always add a tad more than the recipe asks. Whatever works for you.
Allow this mixture to simmer for about 20 minutes. You’ll know when it’s just about done when the pets and the kids start wafting into the kitchen.
While the tomatoes are simmering, start boiling the rigatoni pasta. This takes usually about 10-15 minutes.
Back to the tomatoes: After 20 minutes or so, add the sherry if you are using it, and cook for another 10 minutes. Stir frequently and do not allow the tomato sauce to burn– keep the heat a low/medium.
Once the tomatoes are fully cooked, remove the wok from heat. Add the cream and the Parmesan cheese and stir.
I usually throw in a handful or two of mozzarella cheese and stir it in.
Hopefully, by now your rigatoni pasta has fully boiled; drain and lightly rinse. The Chicken Riggies is done! Pour the Riggie sauce into a dish and garnish with more mozzarella cheese sprinkled on top.
Serve with freshly made bread or a nice green salad. It’s terrific with Red Truck red wine! Manja, manja!