food addiction.  recipe.  penne rustica.

Penne Rustica
I came across a recipe book once, the title of which escapes me [okay, it either wasn’t interesting enough to remember or just another victim of my terrible memory]. There was a photo of a [with some skepticism, as it only seems to appear in American versions of an] Italian pasta dish that I liked the look of, but its ingredients, not so much. So, while I maintain [and actually remember] the recipe’s name, the ingredients and composition are in no real [not too much any] way the same. So, if you have mistakenly [I say, luckily] stumbled upon this recipe looking for a traditional [American] Penne Rustica, please move along. However, if you are looking for a [better in my view] twist on the [alleged] classic, voila [or whatever the Italian equivalent; why quit pretending now?].



Penne Rustica

4 Cups Uncooked Penne Pasta

1 Package Strip Bacon, Cut into 2″ Pieces

2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut into Strips or Cubes

12 Tiger Prawns, Shelled and Deveined

2 Tablespoons Butter

1 Tablespoon Flour

1/2 Cup of Stock (Chicken or preferred)

2 Cups Heavy Cream

1 Cup Plus Two Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese

1 10 oz. Can Roma Tomatoes, Chopped with Juice

1-1.5 Cup Pitted Black Olives

1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Crushed Fresh Garlic

Sea Salt

Fresh Ground Pepper


Smoked Paprika



Start large pot of salted water to boil for pasta.

Cook bacon, cut into 2″ pieces and cook in large pan until crisp. Move bacon pieces to large casserole dish and drain bacon fat. Reserve for cooking further ingredients.

In same [bacon] pan, add 1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat and two boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced or cubed. Season with sea salt, fresh ground black pepper. Cook until nicely caramelized. Move to casserole dish with bacon.

Water should be boiling at this point. Add penne. Continue to next step and watch pasta, stirring occasionally. Cook until el dente. Strain. Add to casserole dish. Reserve pasta water.

While pasta cooks, add twelve tiger prawns (or large shrimp) to same [again] pan [we are building a flavor profile], shelled and deveined, with another tablespoon of reserved bacon fat. Add sea salt, fresh ground pepper and fresh crushed garlic to taste. When just cooked through, transfer to casserole dish.

Add two tablespoons of butter to [yes, the same] pan. Once melted, add Tablespoon of flour. Stir with butter until combined and bubbling (small roux), approximately one minute. Add 1/4 cup pasta water and 1/2 cup stock. Stir with roux. It will thicken slightly. Cook, deglazing all the bits left behind by the bacon, chicken and prawns. Add 2 cups heavy cream and 1 cup shredded Parmesan. Stir until combined and cheese melts; until smooth. Add 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh basil and more crushed garlic to taste. Add, 1 can of Roma tomatoes, chopped, with juice. Simmer for 15 minutes or so.

While sauce is simmering, add 1 to 1.5 cup(s) of pitted black olives to casserole dish. Toss all contents until evenly distributed. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese on top. Pour hot sauce mixture evenly over contents of casserole dish.  Stir again, to distribute tomato pieces.

Sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese over pasta mixture. Sprinkle two tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese over cheddar. Top with a pinch or two of smoked paprika and chopped parsley.

Bake at 400 degrees until cheese is bubbling and lightly browned; approximately 30 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes. Serve as a main course in large, shallow pasta bowl, with garlic toast.

Serves six.

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