Monday, June 29, 2009

June 2009-- Copycat Carmela's Chicken Rigatoni from Macaroni Grill--- Nikki

So. I decided to copy my favorite dish from Macaroni Grill as soon as learned what the challenge was. I don't generally go to the restaurant anymore, as they have a tendency to seat us in the very back of the restaurant when we go with Nan-- we call it the Child's Grotto. It's dark, very close to the noisy kitchen, and sort of a waiter's no-man's land. Sigh. Anyway. I love this particular dish, and I figured if I could replicate it, I wouldn't have to go back there anymore. However, June has been insane. It's been difficult to find a time when Jay would be home to eat the fruits of my labor, plus I had more trouble than usual finding the Marsala wine-- a pretty integral ingredient. As the month came to an end, I finally sucked it up and went to a liquor store to find my Marsala, and I tackled the dish today-- even though we'd long ago scheduled today to tear the house apart and steam clean the carpets. Yep. I AM brilliant.
Here's the lineup of ingredients:

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 onion
8 oz mushrooms
1/2 C butter (1 stick)
2 stems rosemary, chopped
1 C Marsala wine
1/2 C heavy cream
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese

First, I chopped the chicken into bite-sized pieces, coated the pieces with salt and pepper, and added them to the smoking hot skillet with a little olive oil.

Here's Jay taking a moment from cleaning to suck in the sauteed chicken goodness. Yum. After the chicken was browned, I added a 1/2 Tbsp of butter to the same pan and dumped the chopped onion to the pan.

Yummo. I carmelized the onions, and put them aside until needed later. (By the way-- those lazy jackholes at Macaroni Grill apparently have carmelized onions just ready-made to use on demand. Jerks.) Next, I dumped the rest of the stick of butter into the still-hot pan, and added the mushrooms. This is when things started to smell truly awesome.

It was also at this point I remembered I needed to chop the rosemary. And add the pasta to the water boiling on the stove. And add the Marsala. Things were getting crazy.

I chopped the rosemary (and please note the presence of my favorite cooking implement-- the glass of wine...).

I added the pasta to the boiling water, and then I put the onions and chicken back into the skillet, and added the Marsala.

And at this point, my husband began to express his deep appreciation for the smell coming from the kitchen. I let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, and then I added the heavy cream:

I let it cook for a few more minutes, then I took the pasta out of the water and served it up in the bowls. The final step is a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

Oh, my. It smells JUST like the dish at Macaroni Grill. And the taste?

It was AWESOME. The only discernable difference is the chicken-- I sauteed it, they grill it. (Hence the name Macaroni Grill...) But other than that-- perfect. And what did Jay think?

He approved. Our usual third taster is at her grandma's tonight, but I think she would've approved. With a nice salad, a little bread, some wine-- it was a lovely date night at home. Fantastic. I would completely make it again.


  1. This looks like a lovely night at home special dinner. I've also been desperate to have rigatoni lately! You're making my mouth all watery :)

  2. Sounds awesome! I do enjoy a good Marsala sauce. Mostly the aroma which is intoxicating.

    You say that nan would have you mean she would NOT call this dirt?

  3. It was very much like the Macaroni Grill meal. I've snaked bites of Nikki's here and there and it was nearly identical.

  4. I think it would have not been pronounced "DIRT" upon first taste by the girl... as long as I left the chicken out of her portion. And gave her lots and lots of bread.

  5. This looks really good. We will try this.