Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dutch Oven Penne Rustica and Parmesan Seasoned Breadsticks

My good friend John is partly responsible for the existence of Mark’s Black Pot. He and I have been really good friends for a very long, very long time. Currently we also work together, and our offices are right next to each other. We get together in our downtime at work (mostly at lunch) and talk religion, politics, and food. He’s the one that taught me how to make a killer omelet.

So, when he started his Mormon Foodie blog, it wasn’t long before that inspired me to start writing my recipes and stories here at the black pot. It’s been almost a year, now.

So, when he started writing a month-long series on pasta, I couldn’t help but join in. There are a number of pastas I’d like to make in my dutch oven. I’ve already done lasagna and spaghetti. I’d like to try Tortellini and a few others. Stay tuned, because I’d also like to try making some pasta from scratch.

But not this week.

This week, I had found a chain restaurant knock-off recipe for Macaroni Grille’s Penne Rustica. I love eating at the restaurant, and when we go there, we always get the Penne Rustica. So, I was eager to give this a try. As it turned out, it was some of the most delicious pasta I’ve ever tasted, and certainly the best I have ever cooked myself. I don’t really know that it’s a good knockoff of the original, but it was really good. I think some of that was because I had to do a couple of ingredient substitutions. Also, because I think that knock-offs are rarely exact. Think about the Niemann-Marcus or the Mrs Fields cookie recipe circulating around the ‘net and you’ll see what I mean.

Dutch Oven Penne Rustica

12” Deep Dutch Oven

11 coals below, 20 coals above

10” Dutch Oven

lots of coals below and above

  • 1 lb penne rigate, cooked
  • 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 lb skinless chicken breasts or tenderloin
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons marsala wine (I used white grape juice)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • healthy shakes of rosemary, salt, thyme, ground cayenne pepper
  • healthy shakes of Oregano, paprika
  • 16 oz grated mozzarella and asiago cheeses

So, I came home from church and started up some coals right away. As soon as the coals were ready, I put some water on to boil in the 10” dutch oven. As soon as that was boiling, I put in the penne.

In the meantime, I worked on the other parts. It was really quite hectic to prepare, rushing here and there to get all the steps done. I also didn’t have it very well planned out. Next time I do this it’ll be a lot easier.

The next step was to get the chicken and the shrimp ready. This is where I kinda cheated, but the results tasted great. I took the chicken (I used tenderloins), and the shrimp and put it in a big bowl. I shook in some olive oil, salt and pepper, and stirred it up. Then I put the shrimp and chicken on skewers and fired up the grill. That’s kinda cheating, because in cookoffs you have to do all the cooking in dutch ovens. But I loved the grilled flavor on the chicken and the shrimp.

Then, I got out the 12” deep oven and put some coals under it. I put in some olive oil, then the garlic, the grape juice, and the proscuitto, and just stirred it and cooked it a bit.

While that was going on, I mixed up the sauce ingredients (everything else) in a bowl. By this time, the penne was cooked (partly boiled, partly steamed in the dutch oven), so I added it to the deep dutch oven, and poured in the sauce mix. Then I put in some of the cheese and stirred it all up to get it well mixed. Finally, I covered the top with the rest of the chesses, and put it in the heat with the coals listed above. I cooked it for about 25-35 minutes, turning it once.

While that was cooking, my wife had suggested I make some breadsticks with seasonings and parmesan cheese. She showed me this recipe in an old Relief Society Ward cookbook. I admit I was a bit skeptical. It was a yeast bread recipe, but the rise time was really short and the instructions were really strange. But I decided to give it a shot.

Parmesan Seasoned Bread Sticks in the Dutch Oven

12” Dutch Oven

12 coals below, 22 above

  • 1 Tbsp Yeast
  • 1 ½ cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ~4 Cups flour
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • liberal shakes of parmesan cheese and other seasonings

First, in a bowl, I put the water, the yeast, and the honey together and let the yeast activate. Then I added the salt and the flour. Don’t add the flour all in at once, because then you can gauge the moistness and the density of the dough. I kneaded it for 10 minutes. Then I poured the melted butter in the bottom of the 12” oven, and spread the dough out over it. I cut the dough into strips, then sprinkled the parmesan and the seasonings (I used this really great salad seasoning combo). This is where I was really skeptical. At that point, I set it aside for about 20 to 30 minutes to rise. That’s it. No long raise or proofing.

Finally, once it had risen some, I put it on the coals. In about 20 minutes to a half hour, they were done. And they were delicious!

And, the penne was incredible. It was really filling and wow, what a dinner!


  1. Doing the rustic pasta! Very cool. Sounds like a great recipe, too. Glad I could corrupt ... erm ... inspire you!

  2. Well, you've done more than that this time. I'm probably gonna dig out my pasta maker and give it a try, too.


  3. Mark -
    I just got my first dutch oven and I'm scanning the internet for recipies. Your site blog just 'inspiries' me for some reason... maybe it's the cool black-iron background. Anyway, I love the adventure of this rustic pasta recipe, but I'm a vegetarian. Do you have any veggie friendly inspired main dishes you could share? Thanks, April

  4. Hi Mark,

    Fixed your penne rustica today and it was outstanding-Enjoy your blog and book.

    Archie Thompson
    Moncks Corner, SC

  5. Sounds great. You say "(I used this really great salad seasoning combo)" and the recipe just shows "liberal shakes of parmesan cheese and other seasonings." I'd really love to know what you used, please. The bread looks fantastic.

    Thanks much,




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