Chicken Riggies

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

This isn't exactly about travel, but this recipe is too terrific not to post!

I live in the Utica area (moved here in 1989). Every region seems to have its specialty dishes. When I lived in the North Syracuse area, my stepdad (Jewish/Italian, what a mix) brought home Coneys from the city's numerous Kosher delis, and the best spaghetti and meatball dishes are to be had there. When I lived in the Southern Tier area, the big dish was speidies (yummm). When I lived in Philadelphia it was cheesesteak and cherry coke; in Manhattan, I never spent a morning without a bagel slathered with 1/4 pound cream cheese (I was young and active back then-- didn't gain a pound!).

When I relocated to the Mohawk Valley to raise my kids, I found that the big meal here is "Chicken Riggies." It must be one of the best-kept secrets, though-- I have searched and searched and haven't found a good, genuine Chicken Riggies recipe. All I seem to get in Google is this one lady from Canada who has posted her recipe a billion times.

Well, after eating Chicken Riggies at the Hotel Utica (this, when the restaurant was still open), and after eating some homemade stuff a friend made (she is a phenomenal cook), I did a little experimenting and put together my own little concoction. It's enough to feed a family of six and still have leftovers (if they leave any). Here's the recipe, and it comes from a Utica-area resident, if not a "native":

Chicken Riggies

  • 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 more if you are a glutton for punishment)
  • 1 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 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 cup sherry (can use cooking sherry)
  • 4 to 5 chicken breasts, grilled and 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

In olive oil, gently saute the garlic and onion until tender.
Add the cherry peppers, tomato paste, and canned tomatoes.
Cook on low for 20 to 25 minutes.
Add the sherry and chicken breast pieces and continue to cook on low for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little water if mixture is dry.
Remove from heat. Add the light cream and Parmesan cheese, and stir in until lightly blended.
Pour mixture over hot cooked pasta. Top with mozzarella cheese.

Serve with freshly made bread and a nice green salad. Terrific with Red Truck red wine!

*A note about the grilled chicken: I usually use my leftover grilled chicken that I had marinaded in olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a dinner the previous evening. However, you can use uncooked chicken breasts, too- just cut the raw meat into small cubes and cook them when you saute the garlic and onion.

13 remarks

Thanks for this recipe! (I have over 200 cookbooks in my library!)

Spiedies, if memory serves me right, are like shishkabob?

I normally equate Upstate cooking as down home, American, meat and potatoes cooking.

The one thing that I do remember is taking my groups to Wegman's for a coffee or lunch break. Great food!
We now have gigantic ones in Virginia!

Off topic, Have you been to Beck's Dinner Theater? We'll be there the 15th.

12:30 PM  
Mrs Mecomber said...

200 cookbooks! Good heavens, how do you have time to use them all! ;)

Spiedies in the Southern Tier are heavily-marinated chunks of beef that are grilled on a skewer. However, unlike shishkabobs, the meat chunks are removed from the skewers and placed in a soft roll with caramelized onions. Oooooo so good. The best ones I ever had were at the General Clinton Canoe Regatta in Bainbridge, NY. You could smell that grilling meat for miles.

Upstate cooking is very regional, and very Italian. I suppose the Welsh, German, and generic Anglo groups serve meat and potatoes frequently (that is what I grew up on, ick), but the areas around the main Upstate cities have there own incredible Italian specialties.

Wegman's in VA! Good for them!

Never been to Beck's.

12:54 PM  
winteridge said...

Hi: enjoy your blog. My daughter sent me to your site,and I will be back. I have friends and relatives in your area: my bro is the Allstate Man in Oneida. Your riggi recipe looks great. I will have to try it. We just had some riggis at Tassones in Baldwinsville, which is a great restaurant. I do some blogging on the Tug Hill region, where I grew up. Are those tigers secure at the zoo?

5:12 PM  
Mrs Mecomber said...

Hi, winteridge. Thanks for visiting! I know a Tassone family and I know Baldwinsville very well... but I don't know if I know the Tassones from Baldwinsville! (I knew a family from Syracuse). I'll bet those Riggies were fabulous.

You grew up on Tug Hill, huh? LOL, so you know all about New York winters!

Yep, those tigers looked secure. They seemed to like the winter weather.

Thanks for your comments and please comment again! :)

5:52 PM  
winemaker23 said...

I made this recipe, and boy did I have lots of left overs, but they freeze well in individual containers for a quick lunch at work. YUMMY. Now, when I had riggies before, it was in ROME, NY restaurant called Myron's. I beleive it has since went out of business, but they were good riggies! This recipe was comprable, all I did to change it was add a jar of roasted red peppers, cut into large chunks. Wonderful recipe, thanks!

12:52 PM  
Ryan said...

Just sharing a Riggies recipe. Utica style!!

3:20 PM  
Harry Houghton III said...

Here is a quick Chicken Riggie receipt.
1 26oz jar pasta sauce
1 20 to 26 jar alfredo sauce
1 1/2 pint heavy cream
1 can small black olives
1 small jar of peppers of choice
3 to 4 chicken breast halves
1 lb riggie pasta

cube chicken and boil in seasoned water. (salt, pepper, garlic, onion) till tender

place both sauces and cream in a pot along with olives and peppers along with cook chicken till sauces starts to thicken or is to a boil

cook pasta as directed a little aldenti.

poor sauce with chicken over pasta stur together and serve hot

makes serving of six

1:43 AM  
Anonymous said...

Just had Chiken Riggies at Teddy's restaurant in Rome last week. My first experience of it and it was out of this world. They have won awards for the dish. Don't miss it.

6:35 PM  
Anonymous said...

I was wondering how many this recipe as stated here will serve?

9:18 AM  
Anonymous said...

I grew up in Utica and had no opinion of restruants there other than pizza and fish frys. I now live in the Cleveland area and ran into a couple of cops who took some dog handling training at Griffis Park (former Air Force Base). They said the the food and the portions in the area was the best they had ever had. One especially liked some place in Sylvan Beach.

I can't wait to visit and taste the Riggies - never heard of them until recently.

6:31 PM  
Anonymous said...

always bugs me that teddys in rome, ny wins the riggie fest each year. i've had them and don't find them all that great. that said, ur recipe is very close to mine and dead on for some fab riggies! i love hearing stories about how the mohawk valley is known for our good food. great blog :)

9:31 PM  
RockiBottom said...

I was just in Utica for my father-in-laws funeral last week. I was fed more pizza and pasta in that week than I normally eat in a year. (only a slight exageration) One of the dishes someone brought over was chicken riggies and it was one of the best foods I have ever eaten! The kid wasn't giving up his recipe though. :(
I had to look up the recipe online and I was thrilled to find a recipe from someone in Utica! Can't wait to try your recipe and see how it compares to the chicken riggies I ate last week.

10:21 PM  
Anonymous said...

Lived in Utica all my life and that is NOT the real way to make them. chicken breast,pasta, hot sauce, cream sauce, peppers olives if you like

2:46 PM  

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