Updated 04/21/2012 05:00 AM
Recipe: Penne with Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce
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1 pound penne pasta (see hints below)
4 ounces diced pancetta (see hints below)
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup vodka
1 cup heavy cream
Chopped parsley or basil for garnish (optional)
Grated parmesan cheese for garnish
Get a large pot of water going for the penne and then start the flavor base for this recipe by crisping up 4-ounces of diced pancetta in another large pot. (You could leave this step out for a vegetarian version).
Pancetta is really nothing more than unsmoked, Italian style bacon and, once it is close to being crisp, add 1 small, finely diced onion and cook that to soften.
At that point, add 2 minced cloves of garlic and a good pinch of red pepper flakes. Let that cook for a minute, and then add 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes, 1/2 cup vodka and 1 cup heavy cream. Stir that together and bring it up to a simmer.
Add the pasta once the water comes to a boil, stir that around, and then adjust the heat on the sauce so it is just simmering along as the pasta is cooking.
Drain the pasta really well when it is done and add it to the sauce while it is still nice and hot, toss to coat and it is time to eat!
Garnish it with grated parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley or basil if you like.
Substitute prosciutto or even regular bacon for the pancetta if you like…bacon will give it a little smoky flavor that you won't find with the pancetta.
Substitute any small dried pasta you have on hand or use 16-20 ounces of cheese tortellini instead.
Be super careful anytime you are cooking with alcohol around an open flame.