recipe

Chicken Riggies: the tasty, hearty recipe for a classic Italian-American dish from Utica

Total time: 50 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 6 people
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If you live anywhere outside of upstate New York, you may not have heard of chicken riggies, and you'd be seriously missing out. Chicken riggies is a phenomenal, easy-to-make Italian-American dish from Utica. It's made from rigatoni pasta (which is where the name comes from) and succulent pieces of chicken tossed in a creamy, spicy pepper and tomato sauce.

If you're in the mood for a comforting dish with a spicy kick, you'll love chicken riggies. It's perfect for feeding a small group and will help keep the cold at bay when it's chilly outside. Don't forget to serve it with a side of garlic bread so you can mop up all that tasty sauce.

Why is it Called Chicken Riggies?

The name “riggies” comes from rigatoni, the type of pasta used in this tasty recipe. Of course, you can use other types of pasta, but chicken riggies with rigatoni pasta is the best.

Chicken Riggies Origins

Chicken riggies was created by Italian-Americans in Utica, in upstate New York. No one knows who exactly created chicken riggies, but the recipe is popular across the region.

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How to Make Chicken Riggie Sauce

Making Utica chicken riggies at home is incredibly easy, and you can make this fantastic, flavorful dish in about 45 minutes. Start by making the rigatoni following the directions on the package. Cook it to al dente, then save 1/2 cup of pasta water, and drain the rest. Set the pasta off to the side.

Next, season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. As the pasta cooks heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken for 5 minutes, turning it to cook each side, until it gets nice and browned. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Heat a little more oil in the skillet. Sauté the onions and bell peppers until softened. Stir in the garlic, cherry peppers, oregano, and a pinch of salt and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about a minute or so. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, then continue cooking until the wine has nearly evaporated.

Mix the chicken and juices back into the sautéed vegetables. Stir in the tomatoes and reserved pasta water. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook the sauce for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked through. You can use an instant-read meat thermometer to double-check when the chicken is safe. It should have an internal temperature of 165F.

Mix in heavy cream and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss it well to coat. Garnish with basil, and enjoy.

Tips for making the Best Utica Chicken Riggies

Chicken riggies are usually made with a flavorful tomato sauce, but if you want to try a white sauce, you can use less tomatoes.

Use a dry white wine like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or an unoaked Chardonnay for this recipe.

After adding the wine, make to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of your skillet. This will add tons of flavor to your sauce.

For an ultra-creamy, even more decadent version of chicken riggies, use cream cheese instead of heavy cream.

Add parmesan as an extra garnish to take your chicken riggies to the next level.

You can add other ingredients to your chicken riggies like mushrooms, zucchini, or olives.

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How to Store Chicken Riggies

Once cooled, transfer your chicken riggies to an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 3 days.

How to Reheat Utica Chicken Riggies

When you're ready to reheat and eat your leftover chicken riggies, just pop them into a pot and heat them over low heat, stirring occasionally. When the chicken is entirely heated through, it's ready to serve and enjoy again.

Ingredients
yellow onion, thinly sliced
1
Garlic, minced
3 cloves
medium red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2
large chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into 1-inch cubes
2
salt and pepper to taste
dried rigatoni pasta
1 pound
Extra virgin olive oil
jarred hot cherry peppers, sliced
1/3 cup
Dried oregano
1 tsp
White wine
1/2 cup
Crushed tomatoes
1 28-ounce can
Heavy Cream
1/2 cup
fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/3 cup

Instructions

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet for al dente.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

While the rigatoni is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Sear the chicken for 5 minutes, turning it to cook each side, until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate.

Save ½ cup of pasta water, then drain the rest.

Heat oil in the skillet. Saute the onions and bell peppers, cooking for 6 to 8 minutes, until softened.

Stir in the garlic, cherry peppers, oregano, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Stir in the wine to deglaze the pan. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the wine has nearly cooked off.

Add the chicken and juices to the skillet. Stir in the tomatoes and ½ cup of pasta water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked.

Stir in heavy cream. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly.

Pour the sauce over the pasta. Toss to coat. Garnish with basil and serve.

Notes

You can substitute a plant-based alternative to heavy cream to make dairy-free chicken riggies.

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