Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola (Penne w/ Vodka Sauce)

Well, another year of UW has come and gone and here I am, still stuck at this University as a Super Senior next year. I'm not going to lie, seeing the photos that my friends had posted on their big day made me jealous. I should've been up there with them, celebrating with them, entering into the real world with them but a decision made here and there, led me to this point. I can't wait until that day comes and I know it will come sooner than later.

I'm extremely proud of my friends that graduated and I congratulate the UW Class of 2013. Only bigger and better things are to come. Until then, let's cheers with some Vodka! ha.

I'm not a huge fan of alcohol, surprise surprise. For one, I get that wonderful "asian glow" and turn as red as an apple and two, people say alcohol has tons of calories so I'd rather drink a milkshake. ha. But cooking with alcohol is a different story. It definitely adds something you can't get otherwise. This Penne Alla Vecchia Betolla (Penne w/ Vodka Sauce) is no different.

Vodka is pretty flavorless overall but it definitely added something to the tomato sauce. Don't worry, you don't taste that "rubbing alcohol" flavor. It's tomatoey, creamy and has a bit of a kick in the back of the throat from the red pepper flakes. Serve it with your protein of choice, mine was chicken, and it becomes a meal.

Nick & Toni's Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola (Penne w/ Vodka Sauce)
Recipe by Joseph Realmuto

1/4 cup good olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup vodka
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled plum tomatoes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound penne pasta
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
Grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof saute pan over medium heat, add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and dried oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Add the vodka and continue cooking until the mixture is reduced by half.

Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes through a sieve and crush them into the pan with your hands. Add 2 teaspoons salt and a pinch of black pepper. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and place it in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
 Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente. Drain and set aside. 

Place the tomato mixture in a blender and puree in batches until the sauce is a smooth consistency. Return to the pan.

Reheat the sauce, add 2 tablespoons fresh oregano and enough heavy cream to make the sauce a creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes. Toss the pasta into the sauce and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Serve with an additional sprinkle of Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh oregano on each plate.

-Aaron John


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