Penne Alla Vodka with Pancetta

My wife Dana is a great cook and loves to dabble in recipes that center around Italian cuisine.  She previously made Rigatoni Alla Vodka, but she has improved on it by using pancetta.  Yep, she added bacon!  No wonder I married her. This is quite possibly my favorite meal of all time.  You have to try it!

Penne All Vodka

 

Penne Alla Vodka with Pancetta

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. When the oil is hot, sauté the onions until they are golden
brown.

Saute Onions

On my stove, it takes about 8 ½ minutes.

Add the tomatoes and herbs

After you have browned the onions, add the crushed tomatoes to the saucepan. Stir in the oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce for 1 hour.

Dice the Pancetta

Dice the pancetta into 1/4 inch cubes.

Render the fat and crisp the pancetta

About 20 minutes into the sauce simmering process, add the diced pancetta into a large frying pan.  Cook until the fat renders and the pancetta crisps up.  Remove the pancetta from the pan, reserving the rendered fat.

Add the mushrooms

Add the mushrooms and hot pepper flakes into the frying pan with the reserved pancetta fat.  Saute over medium heat until the mushrooms are golden.

Saute the mushrooms

On my stove, it took approximately 15 mins, but this will differ for everyone.

Vodka time

Add the vodka slowly to the mushroom mixture and simmer for 5 minutes to cook off the
alcohol.

Add the cream

Add the heavy cream to the mushroom / vodka mixture and bring to a simmer (this took
approximately 5 min on my stovetop).

Pour the cream into the tomato sauce

Pour the cream mixture into the tomato puree and stir. Keep the sauce warm while you cook the pasta.

 

Add approximately 1 tbsp of kosher salt to 6 quarts of water and bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta to the water and cook uncovered until the pasta is al dente (follow the cooking directions on your box of pasta for the al dente recommendation).

Drain the pasta well.

Penne with parmesan

This step is extra – we didn’t take this step on the day we had leftovers, but we did it on the first night – Melt the remaining 4 tbsp of butter in a large skillet. Stir in the pasta to glaze and then add the parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly.

Penne Alla Vokda with Pancetta

Stir in about 1/3 of the sauce and 2/3rds of the crispy pancetta with the pasta. Top each plate with some additional sauce and pass the remaining sauce and additional cheese at the table. This last step is up to you.

We stirred in 1/3 of the sauce and added just a little bit to the top of each of our plates. We saved the rest for leftovers!

 

Penne Alla Vodka
Author: 
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
The perfect Penne Alla Vodka recipe!
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1, 28oz can crushed tomato (I used Cento)
  • ⅛ tsp dried basil leaves (or you can use approx. 6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped)
  • ⅛ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt (I used kosher salt)
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 8 tbsp butter (you will use 4 tbsp at a time)
  • 12 oz. fresh white mushrooms, quartered, about 3 cups
  • ⅛ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (to taste….this was enough for me, I like things mild….my husband could use more)
  • ½ cup vodka
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 ½ pounds rigatoni pasta (or you can use 1 ½ pounds penne) I like the Barilla brand
  • ¼ cup dry parmesan cheese (plus additional for the table!)
  • ⅓ pound pancetta, diced into ¼ inch cubes
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. When the oil is hot, sauté the onions until they are golden brown.
  2. On my stove, it takes about 8 ½ minutes.
  3. After you have browned the onions, add the crushed tomatoes to the saucepan. Stir in the oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce for 1 hour.
  4. Dice the pancetta into ¼ inch cubes.
  5. About 20 minutes into the sauce simmering process, add the diced pancetta into a large frying pan. Cook until the fat renders and the pancetta crisps up. Remove the pancetta from the pan, reserving the rendered fat.
  6. Add the mushrooms and hot pepper flakes into the frying pan with the reserved pancetta fat. Saute over medium heat until the mushrooms are golden.
  7. On my stove, it took approximately 15 mins, but this will differ for everyone.
  8. Add the vodka slowly to the mushroom mixture and simmer for 5 minutes to cook off the alcohol.
  9. Add the heavy cream to the mushroom / vodka mixture and bring to a simmer (this took
  10. approximately 5 min on my stovetop).
  11. Pour the cream mixture into the tomato puree and stir. Keep the sauce warm while you cook the pasta.
  12. Add approximately 1 tbsp of kosher salt to 6 quarts of water and bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta to the water and cook uncovered until the pasta is al dente (follow the cooking directions on your box of pasta for the al dente recommendation).
  13. Drain the pasta well.
  14. This step is extra – we didn’t take this step on the day we had leftovers, but we did it on the first night – Melt the remaining 4 tbsp of butter in a large skillet. Stir in the pasa to glaze and then add the parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly.
  15. Stir in the about ⅓ of the sauce and ⅔rds of the crispy pancetta with the pasta. Top each plate with some additional sauce and pass the remaining sauce and additional cheese at the table. This last step is up to you.
  16. We stirred in ⅓ of the sauce and added just a little bit to the top of each of our plates. We saved the rest for leftovers!
Notes
Adapted from food.com
 

About Author

Rex

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.

2 Comments

    • Rex

      Nancy – thanks for the comment. I updated the recipe to add the pancetta quantity.

      I used 1/3 pound of pancetta. I picked it up at the deli counter at my local grocery store. It was boars head brand. I had the deli guy slice it into 1/4 inch slices.

      Rex

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