What are Chicken Riggies and why should you care?

Syracuse, Utica and Rome are great foodie towns. Especially Italian food.

They’re known for unique Italian eats Utica Greens, Chicken Riggies and tomato pie.  Chicken Riggies are a staple on most CNY restaurants – and nearly every one puts their own spin on the dish.

They’re so popular that they made The Food Network’s list of best pasta in the United States.

A new list published by the Food Network listed the top 98 pastas in the United States, noting the Chicken Riggies at Pastabilities in Armory Square.

If you don’t know what Chicken Riggies are, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s a creamy, spicy pasta dish, a Central New York favorite.

“Up in Utica, the usual spaghetti and meatballs gives way to a unique regional specialty, chicken riggies,” The Food Network wrote. “Rigatoni (i.e. riggies) are mixed with chicken and hot or sweet peppers in a spicy cream and tomato sauce. The dish is so popular and so beloved that it has its own festival, Riggie Fest. Many locals have a favorite, but when Guy (Fieri) came to town on Triple D, he dove into the Wicky-Wicky Chicken Riggies at Pastabilities, under scallions and freshly grated cheese.”

Pastabilities has been featured on the Food Network several times, including “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and the spinoff series “America’s Favorites.” The eatery’s famous spicy hot tomato oil is also a beloved Syracuse staple, often paired with stretch bread or used as a pasta sauce.  It’s now for sale in several retail outlets.

Chicken Riggies are so popular that there was a contest to see who makes the best, with more than 9,000 readers entering votes. https://www.syracuse.com/life-and-culture/g66l-2019/04/073960fadb6996/cnys-best-chicken-riggies-and-the-winners-are-.html.

The Readers’ Choice was https://www.creeksideverona.com   Creekside Inn, in Oneida. Judges noted “It’s got to be the subtle hint of exotic mushrooms and the deglazing that makes these riggies so good. When Chef Rich Conway cooks the chicken, he tosses in a fistful of wild mushrooms. They cook down so much that they almost disappear, but the flavor stays behind. And the deglazing left a slight acidity that adds another level to the taste.  He finishes each dish with a few slices of fresh parmesan cheese on top. It’s a nice touch.”

Francesca’s Cucina http://www.francescas-cucina.com/ in Syracuse’s Little Italy was the judges’ choice, noting, “The chef sautés the chicken breast in clarified butter, and that gives the entire dish a buttery flavor. The riggies were richer than the other finalists. The butter makes all the difference. It’s makes it really rich, and it’s different than the others we’ve tried. The chef here roasts the peppers and onions in advance so they’re already cooked down, allowing the flavor to come out.”

More press on Chicken Riggies in Central New York comes from syracuse.com’s Charlie Miller, who found some great chicken riggies at a CNY bowling alley and wrote:

The guys in the kitchen cut chicken breast into 1-inch-by-¼-inch chunks and marinate them in dry sherry, olive oil, oregano and garlic.The riggie sauce combines onions, green peppers, hot cherry peppers, marinara sauce, heavy cream, cream cheese and parmesan cheese. It also has tomato soup, which adds a touch of sweetness.

They don’t toss in hot sauce or crushed red peppers, but this recipe has enough cherry peppers to make the sauce spicy on the front end. the-best-chicken-riggies-ever-at-this-bowling-alley.html 

The cooks combine marinated chicken with the sauce and heat it over a low flame. They then stir 9 ounces of pasta into the skillet.

An order of riggies is $14.97. It comes with Italian bread and a side salad. The whole thing weighed more than a pound, most of which went home with me.

Read his full article here. https://www.syracuse.com/best-of-cny/2020/08/hidden-gems-of-cny-strike-some-of-the-best-chicken-riggies-ever-at-this-bowling-alley.html