Saturday, May 28, 2016

Penne Pasta with Vodka Sauce

Vodka sauce is quite the trendy sauce these days--perhaps because vodka itself has become so trendy of late.  But you may ask yourself, "the best vodkas are basically colorless, odorless and could they be contributing any flavor to a tomato based sauce?

Well, the key is basic chemistry.  Now, I'm no chemist, but here's what I've gathered in doing a little research.  Tomatoes, those wonderful little red balls of deliciousness, have what you might call some untasteable flavors that are hidden away within.  Just cooking the tomatoes isn't enough to bring out these flavors--they require a catalyst--in this case alcohol, because those flavor compounds are alcohol-soluble, meaning they show up for duty when we add a little booze to the sauce.

Now, folks have been doing this for centuries by adding wine to their tomato dishes, and that works great--but wine also adds flavor compounds of its own, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, if that's the flavor your going for, but if you want, dear friends, the most prefect, unadulterated tomato flavor experience you've ever had, make some vodka sauce.  Your taste buds will be slap-happy with tomato goodness.


1 cup vodka
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion
3 oz prosciutto
1 large garlic clove
2 tablespoons fresh basil
28 ounce crushed tomatoes
28 oz tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz Penne Pasta

Heat the olive oil in a skillet.

Dice your onion...

And julienne your prosciutto...

and sauté them both in the oil until the onions are starting to clear and turn golden.

mince basil and add it to the skillet

mince garlic and add that to the skillet as well

add crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce

add the vodka

let simmer covered for 20 minutes.  The bulk of the alcohol with boil away, but in the process it will bring out those alcohol-soluble tomato flavors.

add heavy cream

And cook a few more minutes to heat through.

cook the pasta according to package directions while the sauce is cooking.  Serve the sauce over the pasta with some Parmesan and a little more basil if you like.

Until next time,


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