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Wingin’ It: Chicken Riggies for Buffalo Bills vs. New York Giants

This isn’t more of an Albany expression

Buffalo Rumblings regulars know the drill. But for the new Buffalo Bills fans circling the wagons with us, we’re about more than just football here. Need something exciting for this week’s game day chow line? Wingin’ It brings you a themed recipe for every regular-season and postseason Bills game. Like this one...

Wingin it 2023 Giants at Bills chicken riggies

As you drift East across New York State, team allegiances do start to shift. By the time you hit Utica you start to see the red, white, and blue of the Buffalo Bills replaced by the different shades of red, white, and blue of the New York Giants. That’s my way of saying we’re turning to the fine cuisine of Utica, NY and making a skareriffic take on chicken riggies.

Super Nintendo Chalmers may not have heard of steamed hams, but I guarantee you he knows chicken riggies. A deceptively simple dish consisting of chicken and rigatoni (the chicken and riggies), the magic lies in the sauce — which combines red sauce with heavy cream. While researching recipes I noticed y’all Utica residents love adding various pizza toppings into the mix, so I figured I’d just finish the job. “Chicken Riggalo” takes a base riggies recipe, adds some very obvious pizza flair and a hint of wing sauce.

Credit to SgtR007 for the suggestion.

Chicken Riggalo

Serves: From 1 - 12 (maybe I eat it all myself, maybe I share)
Active Time: 30 min
Total Time: 1 hour


1 box (16 oz) Rigatoni, cooked per pkg directions
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 12 lbs chicken thighs (boneless and skinless will make your life easier)
black pepper
garlic powder
12 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 container (8 oz) heavy cream
3 Tbsp hot sauce
4 oz cheddar cheese; shredded, cubed, or chunked
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
14 lb cup-and-char pepperoni
Any other toppings you fancy

You’ll need: Large fry pan, baking pan (I highly recommend glass)

  1. Drain cooked rigatoni and add to baking pan.
  2. Add olive oil to frying pan on MED/HIGH.
  3. Cut chicken into chunks (approximately three-quarter-inch size pieces); add to frying pan.
  4. Season chicken with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and oregano as desired; saute until only a little pink remains, about 8-10 min, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in chopped onions; cook until translucent, about 5 min.
  6. Stir in tomato sauce, heavy cream and hot sauce. Reduce heat to MED.
  7. Stir in the cheddar cheese once sauce begins to simmer; continue simmering to thicken slightly, stirring frequently. About 5-10 min.
  8. Combine flour and several tablespoons of the sauce in a small container.
  9. Fold in flour mixture in main pan and continue simmering for 2 additional min.
  10. Remove from heat and stir the chicken/sauce mixture into cooked and drained rigatoni.
  11. Top with cheese, pepperoni and any additional ingredients; place in oven on center rack, set oven to broil on HIGH. Broil until pepperoni cups and chars, about 10 min (but peek in starting at about 5 min).
  12. Remove from oven and rest for at least 5 min before serving.

Wingin’ It Tips and Prep Gallery

On the topic of salt and spices, I tend to think of the final recipe when adding them. In this case, while I’m salting the chicken and adding pepper, garlic, and oregano at an early stage these need to flavor the entire dish. That means adding enough of each to ensure the sauce and pasta aren’t bland. Don’t worry, you can taste during the sauce phase and add accordingly — but what I’m recommending is that if you were eating the chicken alone, you’d be adding enough to make it a pretty intense affair.

Regarding the pictures, I used chicken thighs for a few reasons. The dark meat of a thigh has a better flavor profile in my opinion for this type of dish and adds more fat, which is valuable for cooking the onions in the next step as well as adding more flavor depth in the final sauce. The first picture was taken right before I added the onions. The chicken isn’t quite finished cooking and the fat and water that have rendered out are evident at the bottom of the pan.

I know it’s hard to see in picture two but there are little bubbles once you start into the sauce. Big bubbles mean big heat, and big heat means scorching your dairy. Don’t scorch your dairy.

For picture three, if you’ve made gravies before, you likely know this trick. Combining a little of the sauce with flour outside of the pan allows very vigorous shaking or stirring to decrease the chance of lumps. I still recommend this for this sauce, however you’ll find that the use of dairy makes the flour mix in more easily than a gravy, and lumps shouldn’t be a major issue.

The next picture is how it looks before pizza-fying it. Stopping here is pretty much just chicken riggies (though the cheddar cheese in the sauce is a “me” thing). Finally, the last picture is after plating.