Utica is getting national recognition for two local favorite dishes. Cook's Country released a new cookbook featuring recipes for Chicken Riggies and Utica Greens.

Cook’s Country executive food editor Bryan Roof toured the country to find the best dishes and 150 of those recipes are in 'Cook's Country Eats Local' cookbook.

Amazon

Chicken Riggies was so popular, there was even a description included in cookbook, along with the recipe.

Around Utica, New York, the word "riggies" refers to the city's signature dish, rigatoni in a spicy, creamy tomato sauce with onions, peppers, and tender boneless chicken. Brimming with hometown pride for this Italian-American specialty, locals will advocate enthusiastically for their favorite versions, and anyone within earshot weighs in. Along the main drag, Genesee Street, we queried a woman in a gray business suit. "Georgio's has the best," she responded, "hands down." A man in a stark white lab coat stopped short. "Georgio's is good," he said, "but Chesterfield restaurant has the original." That assertion caught the attention, or should we say contention, of a third guy, delivering FedEx packages. "Nah... You really want to go to Teddy's, up in Rome. They won RiggieFest a few years running." RiggieFest? You read that right. It's an annual competition among restaurants and home cooks that fills the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The fest had come and gone for the year, but we spent 24 carbo-loaded hours running around Utica tasting and talking about riggies before developing our own version.

Chicken Riggins Recipes

4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped jarred sliced hot cherry peppers, plus 3 tablespoons cherry pepper brine
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
1 pound rigatoni
2 1/2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (1 1/4 cups)

1. Combine chicken, 2 tablespoons cherry pepper brine, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon salt in zipper-lock bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Stir in mushrooms, bell peppers, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer vegetables to bowl; set aside. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and onion to now-empty pot and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in cherry peppers, garlic, and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add -tomatoes, cream, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is very thick, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in chicken and reserved vegetables and simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Add olives and remaining 1 tablespoon cherry pepper brine. Cover to keep warm.
3. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add rigatoni and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain rigatoni and return it to pot. Add sauce and Pecorino and toss to combine, adding reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Utica Greens Recipe

1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces ½-inch-thick capicola, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup jarred sliced hot cherry peppers, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large heads (2 1/2 pounds) escarole, trimmed and chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (1/2 cup)

1. Pulse bread and 1 tablespoon oil in food processor to coarse crumbs, about 5 pulses. Toast bread crumbs in Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer crumbs to bowl; set aside. Wipe out pot with paper towels. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and capicola to now-empty pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until capicola begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in onion and cook until onion is softened and capicola is browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Add cherry peppers and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Stir in half of escarole, broth, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook until greens are beginning to wilt, about 1 minute. Add remaining escarole, cover, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until stems are tender, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in Pecorino and 1/3 cup reserved bread crumbs. Top with remaining bread crumbs before serving.

You can order Cook's Country Local Eats at Amazon.com.


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