Monday, November 14, 2011

Chicken Riggies Reloaded

A while ago I did a post on the Utica, NY specialty that is Chicken Riggies. As it turns out, this has become one of my most popular posts of all time, and is among of the top Google searches for the dish. I felt a little bad about this because that batch of Riggies was kind of weak, health-ified version. So when the wife asked me to prepare some Chicken Riggies the other night I decided to document a heartier version of the recipe.

To oversimplify the matter, Chicken Riggies is rigatoni and chicken with a spicy tomato/pepper cream sauce. There are endless variations and any Utican granny worth her salt is bound to have her own notions about what constitutes a dish of Riggies.  They even have annual "Riggiefests" out there in the strange and wonderful land of Utica. The following is merely my own preferred way of taking the dish.

To begin, as I stated before, Riggies is a "Grandma" dish. You don't need to hunt around in your specialty  Italian grocers for ingredients. This recipe is best served by using your standard grocery store items. You are going to need chicken, cream, tomato sauce, chicken stock, parmesan, cherry peppers, roasted red peppers, onion, garlic, rigatoni, whatever "Italian" herbs you like.

Maybe a little bit of Utica Grind red pepper flakes for kick.

There is something about a jar of pickled cherry peppers that I find extraordinarily visually pleasing.

I use two large, plump cherry peppers in my recipe (one red, one green). I find the cherry peppers to be the true essence of a Chicken Riggies. Some use Cubanelles or Italian frying peppers, I prefer the cherry peppers.

With the cherry peppers I use two large-ish roasted red peppers, 3 cloves of garlic, and 1 medium onion. Some favor a rough chop, I like to put a fairly fine dice on everything.

Saute the veg a bit in equal parts olive oil and butter.

Throw in you chicken, a couple pounds of browned, 1/2" diced should do nicely. Pour in a cup or two of chicken stock and a jar of decent pre-made tomato sauce (thickish if possible), a teaspoon of Utica Grind, and whatever herbs you choose. Let this all simmer for about 45 mikes and then remove from heat and stir in whipping cream until you have reached a pleasing pinkness. Throw in a handful of parmesan and that is all she wrote.

Pour in your nice, fat, ridged rigatonis and let it sit for a couple minutes.

There are those out there who finish this with black olives, I don't approve of this. I like a bit of parsley, nothing more.

So there you have it, a big pot of Chicken Riggies. I first encountered this dish in a cheap hotel in Oriskany (in hotel pans, at the complimentary dinner) and have had a soft spot in my heart ever since. The wife has also taken a liking to it, and we rarely share affinities for the same food stuffs. Chicken Riggies has become on of our infrequently consumed "family meal" kind of things and I have tailored it to our particular tastes. That is to say, what is described here is not an attempt at a definitive Riggies recipe. I find Chicken Riggies to be a very personnel experience.

Anyhow, hooray for Utica.


  1. Going to try this sometime this week, possibly Friday

  2. Tried it last night, put my own spin on it, used 2 fresh jalapenos, onion, garlic and peperoncini since I did not have the jarred cherry peppers. I seasoned the chicken with Montreal Chicken Seasoning. Tossed in a can of crushed tomatoes, half a box of chicken stock and seasoned with dry oregano, hot pepper flakes, black pepper, salt and a little paprika. Simmered for 45 minutes and used milk instead of cream since I did not have any cream. I dropped a hand full of shredded mozzarella in there as well. It really did come out amazing, the chicken was surprisingly moist. I was expecting it to be real dry. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. i want to know about this chicken riggies reloaded. i want to know about this and making secret please tell me in my post.

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  4. My go-to recipe for riggies. A local joint in my town makes 'em with shrimp. Good stuff. Washed down with cold Uncle Charlie or three- heaven!


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