Penne Alla Vodka with Pancetta

Published November 1, 2006.

Why this recipe works:

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… read more

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.

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Serves 4

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.

Ingredients

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