How Chicken Riggies Became A Signature Dish in Upstate New York

Jun 08, 2021 356

BY: Chris Shott

Like many newcomers to Central New York State, Carlos Moran was puzzled when he first saw “chicken riggies” on a restaurant menu. “I asked the server, ‘What is chicken riggies?’” says the California native, confessing that he initially mispronounced the name “ree-gees,” like the Bee Gees, the popular 1970s musical group.

The server quickly set him straight. Here in New York’s Mohawk Valley, riggies (rhymes with piggies) is short for rigatoni. And chicken riggies, in particular, refers to the pasta and poultry cooked together in a creamy, spicy, pink-tinted tomato sauce. It is a regional specialty, endemic to Oneida County, a long-standing Italian-American enclave, but somewhat rarely found outside of the I-90 corridor.

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