Chicken Riggies

This pasta dish from Utica, New York, is made with chicken, rigatoni, and hot or sweet peppers in a spicy tomato cream sauce. We used some of the brine from the jarred pickled peppers to marinate the chicken, and more to lend its punchy heat to the tomato sauce; the cream in the sauce tempers the heat of the peppers. If you have the time and patience, cover the pot of pasta with a lid and let the flavor meld for three minutes before eating. 

Chicken Riggies
Photo: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Margret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen
Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
2 hrs 20 mins
Servings:
8

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • ½ cup seeded and finely chopped pickled hot cherry peppers, plus 6 tablespoons pickle brine (from 1 [22.2-ounce jar), divided

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 3 cups coarsely chopped trimmed mixed fresh mushrooms (such as oyster, shiitake, and cremini mushrooms) (from 8 ounces whole mushrooms)

  • 1 small (6-ounce) yellow onion, finely chopped (1 cup)

  • 1 medium-size (9-ounce) red bell pepper, chopped (1 1/2 cups)

  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 garlic cloves)

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled San Marzano plum tomatoes, finely crushed by hand

  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 pound uncooked rigatoni pasta

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

  • Pecorino Romano cheese, grated with a Microplane grater

Directions

  1. Place chicken in a gallon-size ziplock plastic bag; add salt, black pepper, and 3 tablespoons of the pickle brine. Seal bag, and massage until chicken is evenly coated with brine mixture. Place in refrigerator; let marinate at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours. Remove chicken from brine; discard brine.

  2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned in spots, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until onion softens, about 4 minutes. Add bell pepper, garlic, and chopped cherry peppers; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  3. Add wine to mixture in Dutch oven, scraping up any browned bits on bottom. Return mixture to a simmer over medium-high. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and juices, oregano, and chicken; bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce to a gentle boil over medium; cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is tender, tomato mixture thickens, and a spoon leaves a trail when dragged across bottom of pot, about 45 minutes, reducing heat as needed to maintain a gentle boil.

  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling, salted water according to package directions for al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking water. Set aside.

  5. Add cream and remaining 3 tablespoons pickle brine to tomato mixture in Dutch oven; stir until combined. Stir in cooked pasta. Cook over low, stirring constantly, until tomato mixture clings to pasta, about 2 minutes. Season with additional salt to taste. Stir in reserved pasta cooking water as needed, 1/4 cup at a time, to loosen sauce as desired. Divide pasta evenly among 8 shallow bowls. Garnish bowls with cheese, and serve.

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