Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Penne with Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce

Hey guys it's Dan. I posted this on I Love Cooking but I figured this would be a good home for it as well...

I first saw this basic recipe in a nuevo-Italian book a couple years ago. Then I started noticing the sauce in jars at the store. This is how I made it tonight:
Sautee garlic, a thinly-sliced medium onion, and crushed red pepper flakes in olive oil until the onions are soft. Then add a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes. Reduce heat slightly and allow to simmer and thicken. Salt to taste.

Meanwhile, I cooked some rough-cut chicken thighs with salt and pepper in a little more oil in a separate pan. (Let me just say right here that the original recipe was vegetarian and I was really using the chicken to get rid of it - the end result is probably better sans meat as originally intended.) When the chicken was nearly done I transferred it and its drippings to the sauce, increasing the flame to keep things hot and cook the chicken slowly until fully done.

At the same time, my (salted) pasta water was about ready for the penne.

When the pasta was about ready, I turned it down and added ~2 tablespoons of vodka to the sauce. I had one of the little airplane bottles and used about half. Maybe that's more than 2 tbsp, I don't know. I drank the rest of the vodka. Stir the vodka into the sauce, and leave it on the heat for a few more minutes to evaporate some. While this was happening I drained the pasta.

Next I added heavy cream to the sauce. The recipe called for about a cup IIRC, I used slightly less. "To taste" is a good path to follow here. You want to retain some thickness in the sauce but definitely be able to taste the cream. I also tossed in a crumbled up chunk of goat cheese I had hanging around, which is definitely not essential.

I added a few healthy spoonfuls of the sauce to the pasta along with several tablespoons of coarse chopped flat leaf parsley. Don't use curly leaf because it will taste like shit - I speak from experience. I spooned out some noodles, covered them with extra sauce, and cracked a beer. If I had bought wine, it would probably be a chianti (that's what the book called for at least.)

To recap the essential ingredients:
Penne pasta
Heavy whipping cream
Crushed tomatoes
Olive oil
Flat leaf parsley



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