Penne a la Vodka

The last few days have been pretty crazy around our house.  Finishing up house projects before we have company next weekend, testing out some new marmalade recipes and baking and decorating Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies to help raise money for Second Harvest's Lunch Money Day.  That would explain the take-out pizza on Thursday, the boy was out watching the hockey game with friends and I just have the worst time rationalizing making dinner for myself when I'm exhausted and flying solo.  Plus I had been baking all day and couldn't fathom making a mess in the kitchen after I had just cleaned it up.  Friday was dinner with a good friend to celebrate her engagement and because of all of the baking I didn't even put something together for the boy, I won't even tell you what he ended up eating it's far too embarrassing.

So for tonight I knew I had to make dinner and was happy too because I've been meaning to make penne a la vodka since I made the One-Bite Fried Mozzarella.  The spicy tomato sauce I made to dip the mozzarella in made me crave the sauce from A&S Deli in Fairfield Connecticut.  We used to always get it in college and I loved the bit of spice and the creamy richness of it.  This version is a bit spicier but that's how I like it.

Before I get into the recipe, here's how the last few days have shaped up:

February 9 - Lobster Bisque Dressed Ravioli with Pancetta Sauce
February 10 - Take-out Pizza - burnt out from cookie decorating and marmalade making
February 11 - Dinner in Greektown
February 12 - Penne a la Vodka

Penne a la Vodka
served 4-6

1 large and 1 small can of crushed tomatoes
3 oz pancetta sliced into ribbons
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 onion - chopped
1 thai red chili - minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 cup vodka
pinch of sugar
1/2 - 3/4 cup  heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmigiano
salt & black pepper
1 lb whole wheat penne

1.  Heat a deep saute pan over medium heat.  Slice the pancetta into ribbons.  Add to the heated pan and render out the fat, turning the ribbons into crisps.  Remove pancetta crisps from the pan, leaving the fat.
2.  Lower the heat to medium low and add the garlic onion, red chili and crushed red pepper.  Saute until the onions are translucent, making sure not to brown the garlic.  Add in the tomatoes and pinch of sugar, bring to a simmer over medium low heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes to reduce down the sauce.  While the tomatoes simmer bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
3.  Add the vodka to the sauce, bring back up to simmer and let simmer for 10 minutes to cook of the alcohol.  While the sauce simmers add the pasta to the water and let cook for 10 minutes or according to the packages directions for al dente.
4. Taste sauce and add salt & pepper to taste.  Remove sauce from the heat and whisk in the cream.  Drain pasta, add back to pasta pot and toss the pasta with sauce, pancetta crisps and parmigiano.

I am not proud of the amount I've been eating out lately, but with exception of Thursday, none of it was to get out of cooking, in some cases I still cooked to make sure the Boy had dinner.  Tonight's dinner wasn't fancy but it hit the spot on a cool Saturday night where I just wanted to keep it simple.


  1. That sounds really yummy and I've been looking for a nice vodka sauce so will try yours!


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