In upstate NY, Utica-Rome area, there is a dish called Chicken Riggies. It is an Italian-American pasta dish, with chicken and peppers in a creamy tomato sauce. There are many variations of this dish. Rachel Ray even did a variation of this dish on her show. Since I grew up there, I am very proud to represent Utica with my way of serving this local classic. Traditionally, the pasta used in this dish is rigatoni; I prefer using a similar tubular shape, but smaller, penne. Plump and juicy pieces of chicken are paired with bell peppers and cherry peppers. Onions, garlic and parmesan cheese create a great flavor for the creamy tomato sauce. This one pot meal is a perfect option for a quick weeknight dinner for your family or for that time when you get unexpected guests and need something tasty but quick to cook.
2 chicken breast halves, cut into 3/4-1 inch pieces
1 (8 oz) package white or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves
1 large bell pepper, cut into 3/4 – 1 inch pieces
5-7 cherry peppers, minced
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes (leave whole or puree in food processor)
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 Tablespoons hot sauce (I prefer Franks)
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for garnishing
Fresh parsley, basil, finely minced
8 oz. pasta, rigatoni or penne, cooked according to package instructions
Before I start cooking, I prep all my ingredients. This dish cooks up so quickly, it’s good to have everything ready to go. Cut the chicken and bell pepper into 3/4 – 1 inch pieces. Mince the cherry peppers. I am not a big fan of spicy food, but if you like, you can use hot cherry peppers instead of the sweet cherry peppers. These peppers can usually be found in the aisle with pickles, roasted peppers, olives, etc. They give an amazing amount of flavor to this dish, so don’t be tempted to leave them out. Slice the mushrooms, chop the onion, mince the garlic and herbs, shred the cheese. Heat the water for the pasta when you start cooking.
Heat about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the chicken, seasoning with salt, pepper and chicken seasoning until slightly golden but still partially uncooked, about 2-3 minutes, per side. Do not cook it all the way through. The chicken should still be slightly pink in the center. Set aside in a bowl. In the same skillet, add more oil and cook the mushrooms, onion and garlic for 5-7 minutes on medium-high heat, seasoning with salt and peppers, until tender and golden. Add the peppers, tomatoes, tomato paste, hot sauce and chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper. Are you seeing a pattern here? Yep, I season at every step of the process:) Cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes, until peppers are tender, seasoning with salt and pepper. You can add the diced tomatoes straight from the can or puree in the food processor first, whichever you prefer.
Add the heavy cream, cheese and chicken, cooking on low for another 2-4 minutes, just until chicken is cooked through. If you like olives, you can add some in too. Toss with the cooked pasta. Garnish with more cheese and fresh herbs.