Chipotle Chicken "Riggies" Rigatoni

Chipotle Chicken "Riggies" Rigatoni

Chipotle Chicken “Riggies” Rigatoni

For this recipe, I am bringing you all a taste of the dishes popular where I live and adding a few Mexican flavors. Riggies, refers to the rigatoni pasta in this chicken and pasta dish. The original recipe for chicken riggies comes out of the upstate New York area, but its popularity has spread fast. I enjoyed my first, piping hot, creamy and spicy dish of chicken riggies years ago at one of the local restaurants. It reminded me of a grown up version of a really creamy mac n cheese, but with tasty chicken bites and a good kick from the crushed red pepper flakes. For today’s recipe, I really toned down the heat compared to the way I normally would prepare it. I do love my spicy foods! I also added smoky chipotles and paprika to the sauce. I just love the smoky notes in any cream or cheese sauce. And not to worry about it being too heavy, I added 1% milk instead of heavy cream. I am sure it would be even more delicious, but it really did not take anything away from the recipe. It was smooth, creamy, smoky and just enough spicy.

 

Yields up to 6 servings

 

Ingredients: 
For the Spicy Tomato/Oil:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
2 chipotles in adobo
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt to taste

 

For the Chicken:
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, sliced into bite-size pieces (I used chicken thighs)
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
Olive oil
1 tablespoon flour

I cannot stress enough that prepping ahead will make the cooking experience fun!

I cannot stress enough that prepping ahead will make the cooking experience fun!

Tips~ Infuse your favorite oils with garlic, herbs and peppers at a low temperature. Great for blending into sauces, dressings or marinades. Keep infused oils stored in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life.

Tips~ Infuse your favorite oils with garlic, herbs and peppers at a low temperature. Great for blending into sauces, dressings or marinades. Keep infused oils stored in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life.

 

You will also need:
3 cups small rigatoni pasta
Olive oil
1/2 cup white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced red or yellow bell pepper
10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/3 cup sliced pepperoncini peppers, optional (mild)
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Pinch of pepper
Salt to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
*if you don’t want to use flour, whisk in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to cold milk… until smooth
2 cups milk (I used 1%)
2/3 cup (or to taste) shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1/3 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, plus more for garnish
3 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
Pepper jack cheese, shredded for garnish
Green onions (sliced) and fresh jalapeño (diced) for garnish

 

Directions:

1. For spicy/tomato oil: In a small sauce pan, add 1/4 cup olive oil, red pepper flakes and 4 cloves of sliced garlic. Heat to medium/low until garlic starts to turn a light golden color. Add the oregano, basil and bay leaf and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes. Cook your pasta according to package. Reduce cooking time by a few minutes, drain and drizzle with olive oil until ready to use.

2. While the the oil is steeping, season the chicken pieces lightly with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Preheat 3 tablespoons of olive oil to medium for a few minutes. Cook the chicken for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning as needed or until nicely browned on both sides. Remove from pan and transfer onto a plate.

3. In that same pan, add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil and keep heat at medium. Add the onions, garlic, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, pepperoncini peppers, oregano, basil and pinch of red pepper flakes. Season with a pinch of pepper and salt to taste. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the flour and cook for another minute. Lower the heat until sauce you blend the sauce.

4. Transfer the chile/garlic oil from sauce pan to the blender. Add the chipotles,tomato sauce, paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Blend on high until smooth and completely emulsified, set aside. Raise the heat back up to medium, whisk milk into sauce pan along with all of the tomato/chile oil from blender. Stir well to combine. Add 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/3 cup pepper jack, spinach and chicken. Stir well, fold in the cooked pasta. Reduce heat to a low simmer and let cook for 10 minutes. Garnish top of pasta with shredded Parmesan and pepper jack cheese, cover with lid for a few minutes just until cheese melts. Garnish with green onions.

This is one of those recipes that improves in flavor after it sets overnight.

This is one of those recipes that improves in flavor after it sets overnight.

Tips~ Try switching out the regular pasta for a whole-grain variety for a great source of fiber.

Tips~ Try switching out the regular pasta for a whole-grain variety for a great source of fiber.

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