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Romano's Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica

Score: 4.97 (votes: 88)
Reviews: 88
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Menu Description: "Shrimp, grilled chicken & smoked prosciutto and Parmesan baked in a creamy cheese sauce."

Romano's top-requested item is so popular they've even trademarked the name. Grilled chicken, shrimp, prosciutto, and penne pasta bathed in a creamy gratinata sauce is topped with cheese and paprika, and baked until the top is a crispy brown. There's a distinct smoky flavor that comes from the smoked prosciutto used by the chain, and you might have a hard time finding such a unique item at your deli. No big deal. Just use regular prosciutto, and have the deli cut it pretty thick—1/8-inch will do. The dish will still work since you'll get smoky hints from the grilled chicken and shrimp. The chain serves up the entree in a wide, shallow baking dish that comes to you straight from the restaurant's salamander overhead oven/broiler. If you don't have any baking dishes like that, try using 9-inch glass pie dishes. These make for a great presentation, especially when served hot right to the table, garnished with a sprig of rosemary and a few sliced pimentos on top. Be sure to get the sliced pimentos, not diced. You want long pieces just like those they use at the restaurant.

Complete the Macaroni Grill experience with a slice of lemon passion cake

Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

For a live demonstration of this recipe, check out this video.

Get This

Gratinata Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons marsala wine
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
_main
  • 1 pound penne rigate pasta, cooked
  • 2 skinless chicken breast fillets
  • 12 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) thick-sliced smoked prosciutto, chopped
Topping
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
Garnish
  • 12 slices pimentos
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
Do This

1. Preheat your barbecue grill to high.

2. Prepare the gratinata sauce by melting 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat. Add the garlic and sweat it for about 5 minutes. Be sure the garlic doesn't brown. Add the marsala wine and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients for the sauce and whisk well until smooth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and keep it there for 10 minutes or until it's thick. Cover the sauce and remove it from the heat.

3. Cook the pasta following directions on the package (7 to 9 minutes in boiling water). You want the pasta tender, but not mushy (al dente). Strain the pasta and set it aside when it's done.

4. Pound the thick end of your chicken breasts with a kitchen mallet to make the breasts a uniform thickness. Rub the chicken with olive oil, then sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper. Spear the shrimp on skewers (6 per skewer should work fine), then rub them with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  

5. Grill the chicken for 5 to 6 minutes per side. Grill the shrimp for 2 minutes per side. When the chicken is done, slice each breast into strips.

6. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F. Build each dish in a large, shallow baking dish. Or you can use a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate. Load 3 cups of pasta into each baking dish. Add one-quarter of the chicken strips, 3 shrimp, and 2 tablespoons of prosciutto onto each serving. Spoon 3/4 of a cup of gratinata sauce on each serving and toss to coat. Combine 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese with 1 1/2 teaspons paprika, then sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of this mixture over the top of each serving. Bake the dishes for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the tops begin to brown. Arrange three pimentos on the top of each serving, then jab a sprig of rosemary into the center and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

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Reviews
Johnathan
Dec 18, 2020, 12:59
You will love this way better than the restaurants penne rustica. Instructions were very simple. We used a bigger dish and combined everything instead of individual servings. We also used less pasta to make the dish creamier. 10/10 recommend
sharon
Nov 30, 2017, 14:55
This is the closest recipe I've found. I love your recipe even better than Mac Grills! Thank you!

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I'm Todd Wilbur, Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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