A Regional Delicacy from Utica, New York
Utica is an Upstate New York town known for its Italian cuisine, and no dish shows up on the area’s menus as consistently as Chicken Riggies (aka Utica Riggies). As a matter of fact, this regional delicacy has made waves in recent years, appearing in higher-profile locales including Myrtle Beach and Boston. Inspired by Utica’s signature dish, chefs across the country have taken creative license, adding everything from cayenne pepper to shrimp and even steak. The original, though, was likely much simpler.
The Utica Part is History
The origin of the real chicken riggies recipe is a local mystery. What’s certain is that Utica deserves credit for this creamy creation. It seems likely to have been devised by a local chef who’d spent time working at a place called Grimaldi’s, somewhere in the vicinity of Bleecker Street. Only the Chesterfield Restaurant at Bleecker and Ontario has had chicken riggies on the menu since 1989. Chef Adam Spellman went on the record with WIBX 950 AM to cook the Chesterfield’s recipe, and riggie afficionados might notice some things missing.
The Secret’s in the Sauce
In this video, you won’t find any mushrooms or black olives. But the most important ingredient left out is cream. Due to its pink hue, the sauce in classic chicken riggies is often mistaken for vodka or another cream-based sauce. Authentic riggies, though, get their saucy, hearty goodness from white wine, marinara, and a ton of grated cheese. When you get that part right, your precise blend of vegetables becomes inconsequential. So when you make riggies at home, get creative with your mushrooms, olives, and spicy peppers. Just be sure to lay off the heavy cream.