Utica Chicken Riggies are made with rigatoni pasta, tossed in a creamy pink sauce, juicy chicken and peppers. You can also add some mushrooms and/or olives as a flavor variation.
1 lb rigatoni pasta
1–2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt, ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 – 2 lbs chicken breast halves, cut into 3/4–1 inch pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
4–6 garlic cloves, minced
2 large bell peppers, julienned (cut into slices) red, yellow or orange (green will work as well)
1/4 cup minced cherry peppers, plus a few Tablespoons of the brine
28 oz. can tomato sauce (you can also use crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes with the juice, pureed
1/2 Tablespoon dry herbs and spices, such as Italian seasoning, poultry seasoning, dry chives, parsley, thyme, oregano, granulated onion/garlic, etc.
1/2 – 3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnishing
1–2 Tablespoons fresh herbs (parsley, basil, oregano, etc.)
8–16 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced, optional
1/4–1/2 cup sliced olives, optional
1 cup grated cheese, optional, to spread on top if baking (mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan, etc.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the rigatoni pasta. (If you will be serving it right away, cook the pasta all the way through, the way you like it. If you will be baking it, slightly undercook the pasta, since it will continue cooking while in the oven.)
Meanwhile, prep all the ingredients and make the sauce while the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking.
Cut the chicken into pieces and season to taste with salt, pepper and dry herbs and spices of your choice. Chop the onion, slice the peppers, peel/mince the garlic, remove the seeds from the cherry peppers and finely chop them.
In a large skillet, heat oil and cook the chicken on medium high heat in 2 batches until golden brown on both sides. Set the chicken aside.
In the same skillet, add more oil if needed and add the onion. Season with salt and pepper, cooking on medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the bell peppers and the garlic, seasoning with salt and pepper and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
Pour in the tomato sauce, add the cherry peppers and some of the brine (1-2 Tablespoons, or more if you want to give your sauce a more briny flavor.). Season to taste with salt, pepper and dry herbs and spices. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 8 minutes.
Add the cream, Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs and the chicken. Mix to combine, just until everything is heated through and turn off the heat.
Mix the sauce with the cooked pasta until evenly combined. If serving right away, garnish with more Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.
If you want to bake it in the oven, transfer the Chicken Riggies to a large deep baking dish, (13×9 inches), sprinkle with grated cheese on top, cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven (375-400 degrees Fahrenheit) until it is bubbling around the edges. Uncover and continue cooking for 5-7 more minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden.
This recipe is perfect for meal prepping.
You can make the sauce separately and then cook the pasta when you’re ready to serve, reheating the sauce.
What we did most often was to make the sauce and the pasta, (don’t forget to undercook the pasta slightly) mix the sauce with the cooked pasta and place it into a baking dish. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days in the refrigerator or even freeze up to 3 months.
Take out of the refrigerator and let come to room temperature for 20-30 minutes and then bake in the preheated oven until bubbling around the edges, remove the cover and bake until the cheese is melted and golden brown. The time will depend on how cold the pasta is. It will take much longer if it was in the refrigerator (or frozen) than when baking immediately after preparing and everything is already hot.
Mushrooms are a popular addition to Chicken Riggies. Add the mushrooms to the skillet with the onions and cook, then proceed with the rest of the instructions.
Olives are also a nice flavor variation. Slice the olives and add them to the sauce at the very end, right before adding the sauce to the pasta.
Keywords: Chicken Riggies, Utica Chicken Riggies, Rigatoni Pasta with chicken, pink sauce and peppers