They say that Spring is on the way. I saw, "Ha! Look at all that snow ! Let's stay in by the fire and make a bowl of pasta for supper !"I know many have seen this recipe floating around the Internet this winter. To blog it may seem a repetitive exercise on my part, but here's the deal. This is my food diary. This is the place I return to easily without having to dig around in cookbooks or on-line whenever I want to make a dish that I've made in the past and want to repeat. So here goes my take on Penne alla Vodka.
Some notes on this batch, as encouragement to get inventive with your take. I have no Vodka in the house ... but, wait ! I have Kirschwasser that has been sitting around for ages. It gets brought out every now and then for baking. Otherwise, it sits on the shelf. Well, heck ! It's an infused Vodka, so I used it in this penne dish and guess what ? It worked just fine ! In fact, I think the vodka may have something to do with the amazing way the heavy cream melded with the sauce at the end of the cook time ... I wish I understood the chemistry of this dish.
I also was feeling a bit of the pasta guilt, since I've been Nooming and trying to limit the carbs, so I jammed my Penne alla Vodka full of chicken tenders and felt better about the protein, as I daubed my plate with my meager serving. The pasta and heavy cream ? I'll think about that tomorrow (said Scarlett O'Hara). Anyway, it was delicious and there was such a huge batch that we will be finishing it at leftover lunch. We have family coming for the weekend who will gladly help !
Here's how I did it.
Penne alla Vodka with Chicken
12 oz. penne pasta
sallted water and plenty of it for cooking pasta
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, small dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. chicken tenders, tendons removed and cut into 1-inch chunk
1/2 c. vodka ( or kirschwasser - wink!)
24 oz. good pasta sauce
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
a scant 1 cup measure heavy cream
1/2 c. flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts, rough chop
On the side: plenty of good finely grated Pecorino cheese
Making the Dish:
1. Using a deep sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and sweat for a few minutes, tossing frequently.
2. Sweep the onions and garlic to one side of the pan. Add the prepped chicken and let it sear to get some golden color, tossing when that appears.
3. When the chicken has taken on seared on a couple sides and is no longer pink, pour in the vodka. Be careful, as it has a steam explosion. Let it cook down for a couple minutes.
4. Add the pasta sauce, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Stir everything together and poke the chicken bits down into the sauce. Lower the heat and cover the pan. Simmer for about twenty minutes while you boil the water and cook the pasta.
A word about the pasta ... cook just to a hard al dente ! Ladle out a ladle or two of the pasta water. drain the rest and add to the Vodka Sauce. Toss to coat and let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce.
5. Just before serving, stir in the heavy cream and toss to get it fully incorporated. Add the pasta water, IF you want a goopier consistency.
6. Place the Penne all Vodka in a pretty serving bowl and garnish with the parsley and pine nuts.