Of all the regional delicacies of Upstate New York, chicken riggies are one of my favorites. This classic Central New York comfort food makes a great late summer/early fall dinner for two reasons: first, it uses a lot of produce that is in season; and second, it cooks quickly on the stovetop, so you don't have to turn the oven on during these hot and humid summer days!
In this recipe, I am using two types of peppers that you may have seen at the farm stand. The first are the long and skinny sweet Italian frying peppers, which look like they could be hot but are actually sweet like a bell pepper. They have an amazing fruity flavor that is, in my opinion, far superior to a regular bell pepper! The red variety I use in the video below is called "Carmen" - her partner, "Escamillo," is yellow and even sweeter. Pick some up the next time you're at the stand - they are usually mixed in with the regular bells, but sometimes we put them in their own containers. (Read the signs and make sure you don't accidentally choose an Anaheim pepper, which look similar to Carmen but are spicy!)
The little round red pepper I am using in the video is a hot cherry pepper. This variety is called "Time Bomb" and yes, it's hot! It's about as spicy as a jalapeno, but individual peppers do vary so I recommend tasting one carefully when deciding how many to use. We like our riggies medium-hot, so feel free to adjust the spiciness of this recipe.
1 lb dry rigatoni
2 chicken breasts, butterflied
1 medium onion, sliced
2 red sweet Italian frying peppers or bell peppers, sliced
4 hot cherry peppers, diced (more or less depending on how spicy you like it!)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c white wine (optional)
28 oz jar tomato sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1 cup heavy cream
Fresh basil, sliced into ribbons, for garnish
Grated Parmesan, for garnish
Salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then saute until cooked through and golden brown on both sides, flipping once. Remove from pan and slice into strips.
In the same pan you used to cook the chicken, heat 1 Tbl of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until they start to soften and the edges are just turning translucent. Add the sweet and hot peppers and cook until they are soft. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water generously, then pour in the dry rigatoni. Cook according to package directions, then drain. (Hint - don't make the pasta too soon. It's best to have the sauce finished first, so that the pasta can go into the sauce immediately after it's done cooking.)
Deglaze the pan by pouring in the white wine and cooking for 1 minute until the alcohol cooks off (this step is optional but tasty.) Add the tomato sauce, dry oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and darker red, about 5-10 minutes depending on your tomato sauce. Stir in the heavy cream and cook for an additional minute until heated through. The sauce can now simmer on the stove until the pasta is ready.
Add the sliced chicken and cooked rigatoni to the sauce and toss to combine. Sprinkle with fresh basil and stir. Serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese.
Check out a video of me making this recipe below: