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Chicken Riggies and 'Scarole with Soul


  • Salt

  • 1 pound rigatoni

  • 3/4 pound chicken tenders (1 package)

  • 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (1 package)

  • Black pepper

  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 7-8 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped, divided

  • 2 large or 3 small cubanelle peppers, seeded and chopped

  • 3 roasted red peppers, chopped

  • 6 hot cherry peppers pickled in jar (found in Italian section at the grocery store)

  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)

  • 1/3-1/2 cup cream (eyeball it)

  • 1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more to pass at the table

  • 1/3 pound thick-cut capocolo hot ham, chopped

  • 2 heads escarole, coarsely chopped

  • 1 cup chicken stock

  • 1/2 cup basil (about 10 leaves), thinly sliced

  • 4 pieces crusty bread


Bring a pot of water to a boil for "riggies." Salt water and cook the rigatoni to al dente. Heads up: you will need to reserve about 1 1/2 cups of cooking water just before you drain the pasta.

Trim the chicken thighs and chop all the chicken into bite-size pieces. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat three tablespoons EVOO in a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high to high heat. Add chicken to hot pan and brown all over, about 7-8 minutes, then remove.

Add onions, 3-4 cloves of garlic and cubanelle peppers to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and cook 6-7 minutes to soften, then add the roasted red peppers.

Cut the tops off the hot peppers and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Chop the hot peppers and add them to the skillet. Stir in tomatoes and add chicken back to the skillet. Bring the sauce to a bubble, then stir in some starchy cooking water from the pasta – about one cup. Add 1/3-1/2 cup cream, about two turns of the pan. Reduce heat to lowest setting and simmer a couple of minutes. Add pasta and 1/2 cup cheese and toss to combine.

While the chicken and peppers are cooking, heat three tablespoons EVOO in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped ham and cook two minutes, then add remaining reserved pasta water and garlic and reduce heat a bit. Add greens and wilt down, about two minutes. Season the greens with salt and pepper, than add one cup chicken stock. Simmer greens 5-6 minutes and serve.

Top the pasta with shredded basil. Pass cheese to top both pasta and greens and serve with crusty bread.