Chicken Riggies is a pasta dish native to Utica, NY consisting of chicken, peppers, and rigatoni in a spicy tomato-cream sauce. So why exactly is a Philadelphia-based blog posting a version of the recipe?
I had my first taste of this dish while visiting Utica earlier this year and loved how comforting the dish is!
A few months prior, I also had the opportunity to try some dishes from Cry Baby Pasta, an Italian restaurant that recently opened in Queen Village.
The restaurant, owed by restauranteurs Bridget Foy and Paul Rodriguez, offers a casual and warm atmosphere with a menu focusing on Italian fare prepared by husband-and-wife team chefs David Gilberg and Carla Concalves. (Gilberg and Concalves’ previous restaurant Koo Zee Doo was one of my absolute favorite restaurants in Philadelphia!)
The menu’s Italian fare is a mixture of traditional Italian dishes along with influences from Gilberg’s upbringing in Rochester, NY. Favorite items of mine include the meatballs with tomato and smoked ricotta, Bainbridge greens (Gilberg’s twist on Utica greens), the grilled sardine brochette, and, of course, the Rigatoni with vodka sauce, pancetta, smoked chicken and cherry peppers– an elevated version of Chicken Riggies.
My version below is an at-home version of Cry Baby Pasta’s dish. Chicken Riggies (especially when using smoked chicken sausage and pancetta) has a ton of flavor and comes together in no time, perfect for weeknight meals!
- 1 (12 oz) package fully cooked smoked chicken sausage (can substitute in shredded rotisserie chicken)
- 1 (16 oz) box rigatoni
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 oz diced pancetta
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, if you like it spicy)
- 1/2 cup vodka (can substitute in chicken broth)
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- salt, to taste
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped, plus more for garnish
Begin by cutting your chicken sausage into bite-sized pieces. Cook your pasta according to package directions.
While the pasta cooks, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a separate pot over medium high heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and reserve.
Add your minced shallots and chopped bell pepper to the drippings remaining in the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Add in the minced garlic cloves and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Remove the pot from heat and add in the vodka (or chicken broth) and the crushed tomatoes. Add back over heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 10 minutes.
Stir in the heavy cream and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
Stir in the chicken sausage and reserved pancetta, followed by 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons chopped basil.
When the pasta is finished cooking, add to the sauce and stir to combine.
Sprinkle with more fresh basil and parmesan cheese and serve.
This dish is the definition of comfort food. It has a little touch of heat, but I think it could handle a bit more if you’re a fan. Using already fully cooked chicken sausage (or rotisserie chicken) makes this an awesome option for weeknights– it comes together in 40 minutes!
If you have a chance to check out Cry Baby Pasta, be sure to do so! And don’t pass up the Chicken Riggies!