Thursday, February 3, 2011

Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica

I love Macaroni Grill.  Its one of my favorite restaurants.  But its quite a drive from my house, and like everyone else in America, our eating out budget has been drastically slashed.  Because of the size of our family and the costs involved, we only go out to a real restaurant (as opposed to going to Wendy's) once a year.  So instead of going out to restaurants, we bring the restaurants home.  We put on the fancy tablecloth, use the nice dishes and eat by candlelight.  It makes "restaurant night" really fun for the kids.  Its a great time for them to practice using good manners and sometimes they even get to be the servers, tips and all!

As for the menu on restaurant night, the Internet is full of knock off restaurant recipes.  No matter what they say, nothing I make at home tastes exactly like the restaurant version.  But a lot of them are really close.  And even if they aren't, they're still delicious.  This version of Penne Rustica was a huge hit with all my kiddos.  We served it with crusty garlic bread, a Caesar salad and chocolate cheesecake for dessert.

Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica
Serves 10-12

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cooked and cubed (I grilled mine)
6 slices bacon, cooked and broken into pieces
1 (16 oz.) box penne pasta
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. paprika
Additional chopped rosemary (for the topping)
Shredded Mozzarella cheese

Gratinata Sauce

1 Tbs. butter
2 large cloves minced garlic
1/3 cup Marsala wine (I used 2 Tbs. apple juice, 2 tsp. red wine vinegar and enough chicken broth to equal 1/3 cup)
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
Scant 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chopped rosemary
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cups heavy cream

Saute the garlic in butter.  Add the Marsala wine, mustard, salt, rosemary, cayenne pepper and heavy cream.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Cook the bacon (I baked mine).  Combine the sauce, cooked pasta, diced chicken, cooked bacon, bell peppers, Parmesan cheese and paprika and mix well.  Spread into a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.  Top with more chopped rosemary and shredded Mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 475° for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and it is heated through.

Source:  Adapted from Your Homebased Mom

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