Penne alla Vodka

Coastal Current Weekly

While others may be planning the perfect quiche for their Easter brunch buffet, this dish is more up my alley. With a name like Ridolfi, our family Easter table featured genoa salami, parmesan cheese bread, crusty hard Italian rolls, hot & spicy sausages and rich pasta dishes like this one below. It warms my heart to share this family favorite recipe with each of you in hopes you may try it next to your time honored coffee cake. Happy Easter egg hunting!

Bon Appétit! Chef Bettina

*Bettina Tolin is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin. She has cooked in the kitchens of the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, Florida. She is currently the executive chef and owner of the new Marcello’s Ocean Grille & Spirits overlooking the historic lighthouse in Port Isabel.

Penne alla Vodka

>> Kosher salt

>> 1 pound penne pasta

>> 2 tablespoons olive oil

>> 4 ounces diced pancetta

>> 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

>> ½ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

>> 2 garlic cloves, minced

>> ¾ cup vodka

>> 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

>> Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

>> ¾ cup heavy cream

>> ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

>> 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh oregano

>> 2 tablespoons roughly chopped Italian parsley

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: Heat the oil in a deep 12-inch skillet or pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and fry until crispy, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onion and red-pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for one minute, taking care not to burn. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the vodka and cook until reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and then fill the can halfway with water and swirl it around to loosen up any leftover tomatoes; add a quarter to half of the water to the pan. Simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, about 10 minutes, and season with salt and pepper. If you prefer your sauce a little thinner, add the remaining water and simmer 2 to 3 minutes more.

Reduce heat to low, add the cream and cook, stirring, until the sauce becomes an even pinkish-rust color, about 1 minute.

Stir in the cooked pasta and 1/4 cup cheese; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls, top with additional cheese, if desired, and sprinkle with the oregano and parsley.