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November 2, 2015

penne alla vodka



Hadn’t made this dish in at least 6 years. The last time we made this Daniel and I were living on 14th Street in the Heights with no kids!  We decided it was time again. Daniel and Heron had four helpings Heart and I had two. This version is pretty rustic, but you could use an immersion blender at the end if you prefer it smooth.


2 tbsp olive oil
6 oz. pancetta diced very small in 1/2 inch pieces (freeze a block of pancetta a few hours before in order to make this happen)
1 medium onion small dice
3 cloves of garlic minced
3 tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup vodka
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 – 28-oz can of whole san marzano tomatoes crushed with your hands + plus juices
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup pasta water
3/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 lb penne pasta



Put a large pot of water and 1 tbsp of salt on to boil. Meanwhile add your olive oil and the diced pancetta to an enamel dutch oven over medium heat. Stir and render almost all of the fat from the pancetta until golden brown. Then add in the onion. Saute’ until the onion is soft and starting to turn golden brown. Then add in the garlic until fragrant. Then tomato paste. Cook the mixture until the tomato paste is rust colored then add the vodka. Scrape up the dark bits off the pan and let cook for  a few minutes. Once the vodka is mostly absorbed and alcohol cooked off, add in the  hand crushed tomatoes, salt, and the red pepper flakes. Continue to cook breaking up the tomatoes even more with a wooden spoon. If you want the sauce smooth, I would use your immersion blender now. Then add in the cream and thyme and continue cooking. Add your pasta to the boiling water and cook per the instructions on the package. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water and add that plus the drained pasta to the sauce along with the parmesan. Toss and serve piping hot with a toasted baguette.



comments & questions

  1. I can hardly wait to try this recipe. I have only served the “prepared” vodka sauce. This is the first homemade recipe that I have seen. XO Mom

    Posted November 10, 2015 by Dee Dee
    1. It’s pretty easy and delicious. Did you end up trying it? xoxo

      Posted August 28, 2016 by aimee heimbinder

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