"Riggies” is short for rigatoni, the base for this creamy, tomatoey and spicy pasta dish studded with chunks of chicken breast and sliced cherry peppers. There are many variations on this dish, which hails from the Utica-Rome region of Central New York. Our version focuses on the spicy peppers and rich sauce, while other recipes might include sliced black olives and mushrooms.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rigatoni and cook according to package directions for al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain the pasta and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly golden on the outside but and not fully cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a bowl and set aside.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet along with the bell peppers, onions, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, hot peppers, Italian seasoning and paprika and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the chicken and any juices from the bowl and the cream to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink inside, 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the pasta and Parmesan and stir until well coated, adding a few tablespoons of pasta water at a time, if desired. Garnish with parsley and red pepper flakes if using.
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