Sunday, July 27, 2014

Penne with Vodka Sauce

Molto delizioso!

This is the first time I've ever tried making Vodka Sauce, and it won't be the last.  Wow!  Who knew how easy it is to make. 

The liquor burns off as you cook it for a few minutes (no, I didn't light it on fire, like the true chefs do).  I'm too chicken for that!   Besides, I know from experience how easy it is to set your kitchen on fire.  Anyway, I did let it cook long enough to leave only the mild taste of the Vodka.

Okay, now you're wondering about the fire I started, aren't you?   It was our first house, a cute, little bungalow, where I was determined to make everything from scratch.

I got the bright idea to make homemade French fries to go with our burgers that night for dinner.  As I was heating up the grease, I went to the front, enclosed porch to put a sweater on my 18 month old baby girl, who was playing out there.   Just then, my neighbor came home and we started chatting...big mistake!   Before I knew it, there was a huge POP and I ran to the back of our little house to the kitchen.  It was in flames, and they were already out of control.  All I can remember is "flying" back to the porch, grabbing my baby and running out the door, down the front steps, with the flames right behind me.  I use the term flying because I don't remember my feet touching the floor!  Very scary stuff, I tell you!  

My husband was taking a friend home from work, and saw smoke coming from down the block.  He thought the neighbors were outdoor grilling some hot dogs & burgers.  Boy, was he in for a surprise. The house was gutted and we never did move back there.  

I learned two valuable lessons that day, 1: Never leave grease heating up on the stove and 2: not everything has to be made from scratch!  Ha!

You can imagine, it took me awhile to go back to the kitchen and cook anything!  But, I must confess that to this day, all our French fries come from the frozen section and are baked in oven.


Kosher salt
1 lb. (1 box) penne
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 lb. prosciutto, thinly sliced and cut into 1" pieces
1/2 c. vodka
2/3 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for topping

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add penne and cook as the label directs.  Reserve 1/2 c. cooking water, then drain the pasta. 

Meanwhile, melt the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add prosciutto and cook 3-4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vodka, crushed tomatoes and salt to taste.  Return the skillet to medium heat and simmer, stirring often, until the alcohol cooks off, about 7 minutes.   Stir in the heavy cream and cook until the sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the parmesan and basil.

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine, adding some of the reserved cooking water to loosen, if needed.  Season with salt.  Serve, topped with more parmesan and basil.

Serves 6

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." 
                                                                                     -1 John 4:7

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