Chicken Riggies Red

June 13th, 2007 by Jeff in Main Dishes

If you have ever been in upstate New York, around the Utica/Rome area for any period of time, chances are you have either heard of, or have eaten Chicken Riggies. How this dish came about is beyond me, but if I had to guess then I would say that this is the type of dish you get when you mix Irish, Italian, and German people together.

A conversation with your average cook from the area will usually yield a chicken riggies recipe. Personally, I have come across several different versions. There are many that are cream based, and there are many that are tomato based. In fact, there are a few that contain both. I myself prefer the tomato based versions. Really, this is like the difference between red or white clam chowder. 🙂  I also have a recipe for the white here.

Most of the recipes you will find though contain some common ingredients. These are chicken and rigatoni of course, and also some sort of jarred sweet peppers.

I have never really cooked it much before this week. You usually eat this at just about every get together, and if you have ever been to the North country, well, you know there are get togethers every week. Now that I live out of the region, I finally got my own recipe together. Of course, this will probably change over time, but when I cooked it up, the family devoured it.

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced.
  • 1 20 oz. jar of sliced sweet peppers, drained.
  • 1-2 tablespoons sliced hot cherry peppers (jarred), roughly chopped.
  • 1 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese, grated. (avoid the grated cheese in the green can).
  • 1 tablespoon each: fresh basil leaves, thyme leaves, oregano leaves. Lightly chopped. If using dried, change to half tablespoon each.
  • 1 cup of your favorite white wine (I used a California chardonnay).
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth.
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz.).
  • About 2 tablespoons flour.
  • 2 pounds of chicken breasts, cubed into bite size pieces.
  • A box and a half of rigatoni, about 24 oz. (dry).
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

In a large sauce pan melt the butter and add the olive oil to medium/medium low heat. Saute the onions, garlic, and peppers until the onion is almost clearing.

Add the flour to the mixture and stir. You are basically making a rue here so you do not want a lot of oil left in the pan, but even worse would be dry flour in the pan. You may have to add a little more flour, or a little less. Cook for about 2 minutes to remove the starchy flavor of the flour.

Add the wine to the pan and using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan (deglaze) and get the bits off the bottom. Add the broth until the rue is somewhat watery. Add the tomatoes. While stirring, if you think it is too thick, add more broth. It should have the consistency of a gravy as it will thicken a bit after cooking. Just eye it out.

Add the chopped herbs, cheese, salt and pepper, and the raw chicken. Stir together. Remember, the chicken will need moisture to stay juicy so if you think the sauce is too thick, add more broth. Cook until just starting to bubble and then turn the heat to low and simmer for an hour, covered.

In another pot, prepare the rigatoni as per the instructions. You want firm pasta so do not overcook.

Strain the pasta but DO NOT rinse it. When you are adding sauce like this, you want the pasta to be sticky so it holds the sauce on it.

Slowly add the pasta to the sauce. You could add it all at once, but this way you can control how much pasta is in the dish. The amount I like, may not be the amount you like. Stir the ingredients around and let sit and cool for about 15 minutes before serving. This will thicken the sauce a little.


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