November 14, 2009

Chicken Riggies

Life has been a little crazy, but I'm back in the game! I'm sooo looking forward to reading and sharing new recipes for the holidays, and have been ripping out magazine pages and digging through my recipe boxes for our traditional favorites. There's so many wonderful desserts, casseroles and dinner creations, it's always hard to choose. Christmas shopping has begun, and cookie swaps are scheduled. Mr. Grumps will be getting out the holiday "big pants" very soon. :)

This posted recipe is loved in our house, and there are a few good reasons why. First, it's native to Central New York, our hometown of Syracuse, and second, it's quick and easy, all prepared on the stovetop.

What makes this particular recipe unique is that it's made with the most delicious canned peppers I've ever tasted. Each summer, my nephew makes the trip to one of our many local farmers to purchase "Hungarian Sweets", a mild, spicy sweet pepper, with just a hint of "heat". I wish I could send everyone a jar of these beauties, they are so delicious. Packed with fresh garlic, oil and fresh herbs, I use them for everything including omelets and pizza.

But since I can't send you a sample, please find the freshest peppers available in your area, and create this dish to your liking. It's best to use a variety of peppers, sweet, red or hot; green, red and yellow. I find that super hot peppers overpower this dish, but if you're adventurous, make this with as much heat as you can stand.

Also called Chicken Rigatoni, the sauce is a combination of tomato and cream. I like to use a homemade vodka sauce as a base, but if you have a favorite jarred variety, use that. I've tried Emeril's Vodka Sauce, and it's pretty good!

I think you'll find when paired with a dry red wine or a cold, premium ale, this will be one of your favorite stand-bys. Enjoy!

Chicken Riggies
(serves 8-10)

1 and 1/2 pounds of rigatoni pasta
4 boneless chicken breasts, grilled and sliced into chunks
extra-virgin olive oil
2 large bell peppers, diced
1 small hot chili pepper, finely chopped
1 Italian sweet pepper, finely chopped
1 small vidalia onion, chopped
4 plum tomatoes, skin and seeds removed/finely chopped
1 small jar marinated artichokes, drained and chopped
2 heaping tablespoons of basil pesto
8 fresh basil leaves, sliced thin
1 jar of your favorite vodka sauce (or 2 cups homemade)
1 16 oz. can of coarsely crushed tomatoes
1 and 1/2 cups of grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of fat-free half and half
sea salt
cracked pepper

Wash chicken; pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Using a lightly greased fry (or grill) pan, cook chicken quickly, searing both sides. Allow to cool, then slice into small chunks and set aside.
In a large dutch oven or kettle, lightly coat the bottom with olive oil. Saute the onions and peppers until crisp tender, then add the chopped plum tomatoes. Cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes.
Add the artichokes, pesto and basil. Slowly pour in the vodka sauce, gently stirring to combine. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and parmesan cheese; heat till simmering. Add the chicken and warm completely. Combine the cream and half/half, add to tomato sauce, in small amounts, mixing thoroughly. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste, loosely cover and turn heat to low.Cook the rigatoni in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and mix together with the sauce in a large bowl, using as much sauce as needed.Pour into a large casserole dish before serving, and garnish with shredded Italian cheese and parsley. Serve piping hot.


Libby said...

This looks wonderful! I love the picture. It makes me want to just grab it from the screen :) I heart pasta dishes :)

Aimee said...

mommm did you take a picture of the riggies you made me the other day :o)

"Vanilla and Thyme" said...

Yes Aimee, these are the riggies I made "just for you" the other day. :)
(hope you appreciate how spoiled you are!)