Penne alla Vodka is a classic Italian-American dish that marries the rich, creamy flavors of a tomato-vodka sauce with perfectly cooked pasta. This delectable combination has found a special place on the tables of countless households, bringing warmth and comfort with each bite. In this article, we’ll delve into the history of Penne alla Vodka and provide you with a detailed preparation to recreate this Italian pasta delight.
The origins of Penne alla Vodka are somewhat shrouded in mystery, but most culinary historians attribute its creation to Italian-American immigrants in the mid-20th century. The dish became popular in the United States during the 1970s and 1980s. Its name, “alla Vodka,” references the use of vodka in the sauce, a common ingredient in Russian and Eastern European cuisine.
- Cook the Penne: In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
- Prepare the Sauce: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until it becomes translucent, which should take about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Deglaze with Vodka: Pour in the vodka and let it simmer for about 3 minutes to reduce and mellow the alcohol. This step intensifies the flavors of the sauce.
- Add Tomatoes: Stir in the crushed tomatoes, bringing the mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken and the flavors to meld.
- Incorporate the Cream: Once the sauce has thickened, pour in the heavy cream and whisk it in gently. Continue to simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens further and becomes creamy.
- Cheesy Goodness: Gradually add the grated Parmesan cheese to the sauce, stirring constantly. This will give the sauce a rich and velvety texture. Season with red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper to taste.
- Combine Pasta and Sauce: Add the cooked penne to the sauce and toss them together until the pasta is well coated with the creamy tomato-vodka sauce.
- Garnish and Serve: If desired, tear fresh basil leaves over the top of the dish for a burst of freshness and color. Now, it’s ready to be served.