Utica Chicken Riggies
A very meaty chile pepper that is great to add heat to hot pepper jelly or relish. It can also be stuffed or chopped and used in fresh salsas.
In Italy these first are pickled in vinegar brine then stuffed with ingredients like provolone cheese and prosciutto ham. After being stuffed they are marinated with herbs and olive oil.
1 pound of Rigatoni
2 lbs. of chicken breast (cut up into small chunks)
2 large fire roasted red peppers ( from the jar and sliced into 1 inch pieces)
Bunch of hot cherry peppers, roughly chopped ( 7, or so – depending how much heat you want)
1- 28 ounce can of whole San Marzano tomatoes
Hot cherry peppers
5 cloves of garlic (save one of the cloves to sauté chicken and peppers)
1 cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese (plus more for topping)
1 cup of cooking Sherry wine (cut with about ½ cup of water)
2+2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil (separated- half for sauté, half for sauce)
4 tablespoons of butter (half a stick)
¼ cup of heavy cream
½ teaspoon of dried basil ( plus, a few torn leaves of fresh basil for tossing in with pasta at the end)
½ teaspoon of sea salt
In a large pot heat extra-virgin olive on low heat with 4 smashed and chopped garlic cloves. This infuses the garlic into the oil before you add the tomatoes. Be careful that the garlic doesn’t get brown. It will be bitter. Add the whole tomatoes and Sherry Wine. Simmer for a few minutes. Add the butter, dried basil and the sea salt. Allow to simmer on very low heat.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, saute the chicken in extra-virgin olive oil. When chicken is almost browned, stir in the roasted red peppers, the hot cherry peppers, one minced garlic clove, and sauté for a couple of minute so the flavors marry. Carefully, mash the whole tomatoes with a potato masher, then add in the Pecorino Romano cheese. (Do not add the cheese earlier, as it will stick to the bottom of the pot a little, and cling to the masher.) Toss the chicken and peppers in with the marinara sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. Prepare rigatoni al dente and toss the full pound of rigatoni in the pot with the sauce mixture. One pound of rigatoni is perfect for the amount of sauce that is prepared. Serve with additional grated cheese and red pepper flakes. Buon Appetito!
NOTA BENE: The original Riggies recipe calls for one stick of butter, but I cut it down and supplemented with a little heavy cream, but you can experiment, if you wish. Also, some variation that I like instead of chicken are: ¼ pound of crisped prosciutto and chopped calamata olives. Or, prosciutto and peas is really good, too! Just don’t omit the roasted red peppers, that is what gives it a distinctive taste. Also, when I double this recipe, I like to use one can of crushed tomatoes and one can of whole tomatoes, then crush the whole tomatoes with a potato masher while it’s cooking. I love the chunks of tomato in the finished dish.