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":
- 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.