How to Make Penne alla Vodka
Penne alla vodka was a very popular dish in the 80’s and 90’s and while it’s a little hard to track the true origin, one thing is for sure, it has been completely transformed outside of Italy so my aim is to bring it back to its roots! This creamy pasta dish is my Mums recipe with a small tweak from me – do you think this dish deserves a comeback on Italian menus? Try my authentic version for the OG and let me know what you think – and yes, for once I use CREAM! Ever noticed how many more ingredients are often in a fake recipe? This dish is a reminder of how very unnecessary they are!!
Vincenzo’s Top Tips To Make Penne alla Vodka
Just the right spice!
You do not need garlic in this recipe since the pancetta is seasoned with garlic and other spices which add extra flavor to the penne alla vodka sauce
All time favourite
Basil is optional but (as you know) it’s my personal favourite! The aroma literally transforms the entire dish to a superior level.
DON’T be too rough
Be gentle with crushing and mixing the ingredients by using you hand or you may use a masher utensil as well
Penne alla Vodka
- Large fry pan
- Classic Wire Masher or your hands
- Mixing bowl
- wooden spoon
- large pot
- 300 grams Penne Rigate 10.5oz
- 2 small cans of Italian peeled Tomatoes 800gm/28.21oz
- 200 grams Cooking cream 7oz
- 200 grams Cured Pancetta/Bacon 7oz
- Extra virgin olive oil EVOO
- ½ Onion Chopped
- 3 tblsp Pecorino Romano
- 1 tbsp Rock salt
- 100 mL Vodka 3.3oz
- Add 5L water to a large pot and put it on the stove to boil while you make your penne alla vodka sauce.
- Now, cut the pancetta into small strips and be sure to keep some fat on every piece. The fat will render when you cook it and add that extra flavour to the sauce and make it more crispy.
- Put the fry pan on the stove on low heat and add 4 tblsp of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) to the pan and toss in the chopped onion.
- Add the pancetta and cook it for apporox 5-10 minutes or until the onions start to turn golden and the pancetta is nice and crispy.
- While the pancetta and onions are cooking, pour the peeled tomatoes into a large mixing bowl and add a sprinkle of salt and pepper before gently crushing them by hand (or using a masher utensil) Don't be too rough!
- Back to the pancetta and onions - pour the vodka in the pan, and cook it together for about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the peeled tomato we crushed earlier into the pan with the pancetta, vodka, and onions. Mix the penne alla vodka sauce slowly using a wooden spoon and cook at a medium-low heat for at least 15-20 minutes.
- Break the basil leaves using your hands and toss them into the pan. The sauce should start to slowly thicken.
- Add a small amount of cream into the pan until the sauce turns pink.
- Now, cook the pasta, letting it boil for the time indicated on your packet instructions. Once it is almost ready, scoop up some pasta water using a mug and put it aside.
- Once ready, strain the pasta and add it to the sauce which should be on a medium-low heat while gently mixing it.
- Add half a mug of the pasta water into it and mix everything together until every penne is immersed in the penne alla vodka creamy sauce.
- Lastly, add pecorino on the top (as always, as much or little as you like!) and toss it again.
- E ora si mangia, Vincenzo’s Plate….Enjoy!
How to serve Penne alla Vodka
Hot and fresh – Nothing less! Portion the Penne Alla vodka into flat plates and enjoy the creamy texture of this old-school sauce. I’m definitely going to get Nonna to try this one, it’s so much more delicious than I thought it would be!