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Reinventing the Dish

May 19, 2009

Red Rock Rigatoni

Originally uploaded by alfagee

Have you ever eaten something in a restaurant that you loved so much, you wanted to recreate it at home? And then, in the process of trying to reverse engineer the dish, you realized you could improve the one little thing that was just a teensy bit off? And then you kept on changing it, until it was something not quite original but not quite the original…kind of like an “incredible simulation?” Well, that’s what this dish is.

On my recent trip to Sedona, I ate at a wonderful restaurant, The Cowboy Club. It’s in an historical building; the food is creative; and it’s all good. Their Cowboy Pasta (I don’t think cowboys eat a whole lot of pasta out on the range, but whatevs) was the inspiration for my dish:

Red Rock Rigatoni

(Serves 4)

1 tsp olive oil

3 slices center cut bacon

1 cup diced onion

1/4 cup white wine

1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 canned chipotles in adobe sauce, mashed (add more or less depending on your chile sensitivity)

1 can fat free evaporated milk

1/2 bunch grilled asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces

1-2 grilled chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces, about 2 cups total (I used leftover mesquite grilled chicken; the smokiness really enhanced the dish)

Salt & pepper to taste

1 lb rigatoni, cooked


  1. In a large skillet over high heat, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add bacon and saute until crisp.
  2. Remove and reserve bacon, leaving the fat in the pan.
  3. Lower the heat to medium and add onions. Saute onions until translucent.
  4. Add the white wine and scrape up and browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  5. When the wine has mostly evaporated (3-4 minutes), add the flour. Stir to combine flour, fat and onions. Cook 1-2 minutes so flour loses its raw taste.
  6. Add the fat free evaporated milk and the mashed chipotles, salt and pepper.  Stir to thoroughly combine.
  7. Bring mixture to a boil and drop heat immediately to low. Continue to simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  8. Add chicken and asparagus and simmer about 3-4 minutes to warm through.
  9. Toss with the cooked rigatoni. Top with the reserved, crumbled bacon and shredded pecorino romano cheese.

NOTES: 2 chipotle chilis added a good amount of smokiness, with mild heat. Add more if you have a higher tolerance for heat than Mr. Alfa. If the sauce gets too thick (either while you’re warming through the chicken and asparagus or while it’s standing), thin with up to 1 cup of chicken broth. Sauce can be reheated on a gentle simmer — do not bring to a boil.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Cindy Norman permalink
    May 27, 2009 4:51 pm

    I’m going to make this soon but I wanted to ask, did you love Sedona? My husband’s cousin used to own a bar there. What a wonderful place.

    • alfagee permalink*
      May 27, 2009 4:52 pm

      This was my third or fourth time there….but the first time seeing it from a hot air balloon.

      It’s a beautiful place.

  2. Cindy Norman permalink
    May 27, 2009 4:55 pm

    If only I could get DH in a balloon. Lucky you.

    His cousin died a few years ago and we haven’t been back. I love it.

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