Penne alla vodka. Roma - Lazio
Preparation - Easy
Vegetarian if you don't add caviar!
Timing is important with cream/butter sauces: the hot, just-cooked pasta helps combine the cream and butter with the rest of the ingredients and coat the pasta with sauce.
1 T butter
red hot chili pepper, to taste (We use about 1/3 of a peperoncino or 1/2 tsp pepper flakes)
3 T Italian tomato paste (in tube, found in Italian groceries) plus 4 T water
3 T Vodka
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1 lb penne
6 quarts water
Pasta pot, saucepan large enough to hold pasta and all ingredients for 'pan finish'.
MELT butter in a pan large enough to also hold the cooked pasta.
ADD the chili pepper, sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove.
ADD tomato paste and water. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to prevent it from sticking to pan and burning. If need be, add more water. Should be quite dry though when you are ready to add cream.
ADD the vodka; simmer for about 3 minutes more.
YOU may prepare it a little ahead of time up to this point.
MEANWHILE cook pasta.
WHEN pasta is just about ready (about 9 minutes), add the heavy cream to the heated tomato mixture, stirring.
WHEN heated through, add the Parmesan cheese, stirring.
DRAIN pasta and transfer to pan with sauce.
MIX thoroughly, taste for seasoning and either transfer to a warm bowl or serve directly onto pre-heated dishes.
PASS extra grated cheese at table for those who want it.