Penne Rustica

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I am a big fan of the Macaroni Grill.  The bread, the pasta, the house wine in cute little glasses.  I dig it.  My favorite dish there is the Penne Rustica minus the shrimp.  I've never been a big fan of shrimp, especially "naked shrimp" as I call them. Shrimp with no breading or anything on them...not sure when to stop chewing, weird texture, ya.  So, I get the rustica sans shrimp and made it sans shrimp.  

The starting line up (minus the Marsala wine, Mr. Schwartz was on his way to save the day!)

Here is the breakdown: (musical selection....straight from iTunes mix: Great Balls of Fire. I'm not embarrassed. It's on my iPod.)

First, saute the garlic in butter until it begins to brown.  Add the rosemary.  I LOVE, let me emphasize, LOVE the garlic that comes pre-chopped in jars.  Huge time and money saver.  
Saute' until garlic is golden brown.  Be careful, once the garlic turns golden brown it turns brown, brown really fast!  Nobody like burnt garlic. 
Next, add the marsala wine...reduce by 1/3. 

Add mustard, salt, cayenne, and cream.  I used a combination of 2 cups heavy cream and 1 cup fat free 1/2 & 1/2.  Reduce by 1/2 of the original volume.  I put this on a different burner and let it bubble away.  Be sure to stir it often. 

In a large frying pan, brown the pancetta.  The recipe that I found says that bacon could be used as well. After making the recipe I think that you could.  However, it would add a smokiness I'm not sure if I would like.  If, wait, when I make this again, I will use pancetta.  I guess it is worth the extra $3.00. 
Next, add a stick of butter. I'm not be honest I actually cut the amount down by 2oz from the original recipe.  I never said this was health food.  
Finely chop two shallots.  The recipe I was referencing said 1tsp.  No way that is enough oniony goodness!  But, if you don't like onion, add less. 
Saute' the pancetta and shallots in butter.  Amazing smells will be coming from your kitchen at this point.     Cook this mixture until the shallots are golden brown. 
Add the chicken and pepper.  I used a rotisserie chicken from Target.  They by far have the worst rotisserie chickens around but, I was there.  I totally prefer a nice plump Costco chicken.  Anyway, the chicken should be cooked when it is added at this point.  Just mix it around and heat it through if its not warm. 
Side note:  you know when you buy rotisserie chicken and all of the lovely juices are in the bottom of the container?  I save this golden goodness and pop it into a freezer bag.  I use it later for when I make homemade chicken noodle soup.  It really adds amazing flavor.  I also save it when I bake chicken for buffalo chicken dip.  
Moving on, add 1/2 of the cream sauce mixture to the chicken mixture.  Add about a 1/2 a cup of parmesan cheese.  
Add the noodles that you have cooked to al' dente.  I didn't take a picture of cooking noodles...not the most exciting step.  But, see where you are sauce wise.  You want the noodles to be really coated in the sauce.  If you need more, add more.  If you add more sauce, add more cheese.  Cheese is good. 
Pop the pasta into a greased (well sprayed) baking dish.  Top with additional parmesan cheese. 
And parsley...I use dried parsley, it makes everything look pretty. Put it in the oven for about 15 minutes at 450. 
Your timer will go off and this baby will come out of the oven.  Umm..yes.
Top with additional parm and parsley.  Serve with warm crusty bread. 

To be honest, this recipe tastes very similar to the Macaroni Grill.  It is very rich and super yummy.  I will definitely be using this to entertain.  It looks like a lot of work but really its quite easy.  Enjoy! 

Penne Rustica Copycat Recipe from the Macaroni Grill 
Gratinata Sauce:
2 Tbs Butter
2 Tbs chopped garlic
1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon chopped rosemary (dried is fine)
1 cup marsala wine
1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups heavy cream

1 cup fat free 1/2 and 1/2

Saute butter, garlic , and rosemary until garlic begins to brown.
Add marsala wine and reduce by one−third. Add remaining ingredients
and reduce by half of original volume. Set aside

1 Ounce pancetta or bacon
18 each shrimp peeled and devained (optional : )
12 Ounce grilled 
chicken breast, sliced or two breasts from a rotisserie chicken
1 Lb Penne Pasta, precooked
1 Stick of butter
Two chopped shallots
1-1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese cheese
6 sprigs of fresh rosemary (optional)

Saute pancetta until begins to brown. Add butter, shallots, and shrimp. Cook
until shrimp are evenly pick but still translucent. Add chicken, salt,
pepper, and mix thoroughly. Add granita sauce and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
and simmer until sauce thickens. In a large bowl, combine shrimp and chicken
mixture with precooked pasta. Place this mixture into single serving dishes
or one large casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese and pimentos and
sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 475 for 10−15 minutes. Remove and garnish
with fresh rosemary sprig. Serves six.

The original recipe can be found: Here at

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