Penne with vodka sauce (penne alla vodka in Italian) is one of the most iconic dishes from the 70s and 80s.
The origin of this recipe is not clear, and as you can easily see the main ingredient is not typically Italian at all! So, why vodka sauce is the second most famous pasta sauce after the undisputed #1 (i.e. bolognese sauce)?
It seems that even penne alla vodka recipe was created in Bologna, in the 70s, when at Dante’s restaurant the chef was famous for this flambé preparation, based on vodka. Success was that huge the recipe arrived to the USA and became very popular, mainly among the Italian Americans. Both in Italy and USA, discos started serving penne alla vodka during parties, making it an iconic food. The usage of cream as part of pasta sauces is a typical 80s thing, and this sauce is not an exception.
The particular flavor of this sauce comes from the vodka. This ingredient is not only responsible for the name of the recipe, but also for making it not too fatty. Even despite the cream and the bacon.
But now let’s see how you can prepare your first penne with vodka sauce!
Penne with vodka sauce
- 400 gr penne rigate "rigate" means ridged
- half onion
- 100 ml vodka my favorite: moskovskaya
- 250 ml fresh milk cream
- 200 gr smoked bacon
- 400 gr peeled tomatoes tomato sauce can be an alternative
- q.s. salt
- q.s. extra virgin olive oil
- Start cutting the onion in slices and browning it in the pan, with the extra virgin olive oil.
- When the onion is brown, add the diced bacon and make it gently fry.
- Pour the vodka and rise the heat until it evaporates.
- Add the tomato sauce (or peeled tomatoes), a pinch of salt and let it cook at low heat for about 20 minutes. Keep the pan covered.
- Add the fresh milk cream and let the sauce gently cook for a couple of minutes. Pay attention not to dry it.
- In the meanwhile you should have cooked the penne in salted water. Remove them from water when "al dente" and pour them into the pan. Mix the penne with the sauce for about one minute, with medium-high heat, until it's creamy. Now it's ready!
Suggested wine pairings
But, I must admit, my favorite drink is… the vodka I used to cook it 🙂