Penne Alla Vodka with Pancetta

Posted in food, home cooking at 2:48 am by wingerz


This was dinner tonight. The sauce was pretty straightforward, a nice creamy (though not overly heavy) alternative to marinara sauce. The red pepper flakes add some punch to the sauce; the pancetta, basil, and parmesan add some nice accents.

Penne Alla Vodka with Pancetta from Cook’s Illustrated

1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes , drained, liquid reserved
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 ounces pancetta , thinly sliced, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 small onion , minced (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
Table salt
1/3 cup vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound penne pasta
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
Grated Parmesan cheese , for serving

1. Puree half of tomatoes in food processor until smooth. Dice remaining tomatoes into 1/2-inch pieces, discarding cores. Combine pureed and diced tomatoes in liquid measuring cup (you should have about 1 2/3 cups). Add reserved liquid to equal 2 cups.
2. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering, add pancetta and cook until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to small bowl and set aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pan. Add onion and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are light golden around edges, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and pepper flakes; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Stir in tomatoes and pinch of salt. Remove pan from heat and add vodka. Return pan to medium-high heat and simmer briskly until alcohol flavor is cooked off, 8 to 10 minutes; stir frequently and lower heat to medium if simmering becomes too vigorous. Stir in cream and cook until hot, about 1 minute.
4. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta. Cook until just shy of al dente, then drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water, and transfer pasta back to Dutch oven. Add sauce to pasta and toss over medium heat until pasta absorbs some of sauce, 1 to 2 minutes, adding reserved cooking water if sauce is too thick. Stir in basil and reserved pancetta and adjust seasoning with salt. Divide among pasta bowls and serve immediately, passing Parmesan separately.

1 Comment »

  1. nimes said,

    December 16, 2008 at 4:22 am

    hey use some vodka in your pie dough and tell me how that goes

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