To achieve a sauce for our penne alla vodka recipe with the right balance of sweet, tangy, spicy, and creamy, we pureed half the tomatoes (which helped the sauce cling nicely to the pasta) and cut the rest into chunks. For sweetness, we added sautéed minced onions to our penne alla vodka recipe. We found that we needed a liberal amount of vodka to cut through the richness and add zing to the sauce, but we had to add it to the tomatoes early on to allow the alcohol to mostly (but not completely) cook off and prevent a boozy flavor. Adding a little heavy cream to the sauce gave it a nice consistency, and we finished cooking the penne in the sauce to encourage cohesiveness.
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.
So that the sauce and pasta finish cooking at the same time, drop the pasta into boiling water just after adding the vodka to the sauce. If possible, use premium vodka; inexpensive brands will taste harsh in this sauce. Pepper vodka imparts a pleasant flavor and can be substituted for plain.
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|Serving Size: 1 Serving (239g)|
|Recipe Makes: 4 Servings|
|Calories from Fat: 167 (31%)|
|Amt Per Serving||% DV|
|Total Fat 18.5g||25 %|
|Saturated Fat 7.1g||35 %|
|Monounsaturated Fat 6.7g|
|Polyunsanturated Fat 2.5g|
|Cholesterol 116.4mg||36 %|
|Sodium 312.3mg||11 %|
|Potassium 492.6mg||13 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 67.4g||20 %|
|Dietary Fiber 1.2g||5 %|
|Sugars, other 66.3g|
|Protein 16.5g||24 %|
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Calories per serving: 545
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