Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pasta alla Vodka

This is a pretty simple dish that seems to inspire reverie in many. It's very nice but not something that necessarily wows me. So, I thought perhaps I just haven't had a really standout version of the sauce. I decided to make it for Valentine's Day and I referenced several recipes to create my own. I first looked at Rachael Ray's recipe. I know, I know, she's a bumpkin, but smittenkitchen.com, a blog I read and respect made said recipe and approved. But the recipe didn't appeal to me because, like every single one of her recipes, it called for a decent amount of chicken stock. That sounds totally unnecessary. When doing a quick cooking tomatoe sauce, there's no reason to dilute it or otherwise make it thin and runny. Nope, that one was NOT for me. I read several others; one called for tomato PASTE with no liquid save a shot of vodka and a swirl of cream. I can't even imagine how that would make a sauce. Some called for proscuitto, others for shallots, some included a shot of vodka and still more recommended a whopping cup. To me, I don't really think it's the vodka that makes the sauce but more the velvety texture created by the addition of heavy cream. So i went middle of the road with the vodka, added shallots but no proscuitto and the result was good although I'd like to play around with it more so that I can begin to understand why Ms. Ray dubs this dish "You Won't Be Single For Long Penne alla Vodka."

1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1 shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. vodka
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/2 to 3/4 of a pint of heavy cream, depending on your taste
salt and pepper
fresh basil for the top

Saute the shallots in the butter/oil for three mjinutes, add garlic and cook one more minute. Pour in the vodka and let the alcohol cook out, about two minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and let this simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir the cream in. Toss with whatever pasta you like, although it works well with short pasta like penne and rigatoni. Add basil chiffonade on top. This isn't just a garnish, it really adds to the flavors.


karima said...

The recipe I've used, though I can't locate it,is one Sandra gave me and it definitely did NOT use chicken stock.
I like this one better though, with the shallots and the basil chiffonade.

HLP-other half said...

oooh this is my very FAVORITE as you know, and im always looking for new recipes since i make damn good italian food and still.. ive never been as impressed with my home version than those ive had in little italy and just really fabulous italian restaurants.. i think what i've been missing is like 4 cups of cream and a stick of butter.. perhaps we should try paula deen's recipe instead of rachael ray?