Vodka sauce is one of my all-time favorites. If you have some really good tomato sauce on hand, it comes together in less than 30 minutes! If it's the only thing I'm making for dinner, I like to bulk it up with some grilled chicken and mozzarella or pan-seared shrimp.
Technique tip: Be careful when adding the vodka. You can pull the skillet from the flame to be safe to ensure that the alcohol does not ignite.
Swap option: For added protein and to bulk up the dish, add 3/4-pound cubed grilled chicken and 8 ounces of halved mozzarella balls.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces pancetta, small dice
- 1 large clove garlic, finely grated
- 1/2 cup vodka
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups tomato sauce (recipe linked above)
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound penne rigate
- 1/4 cup grated pecorino, plus more for serving
- 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large, high-sided skillet, over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil.
2. Add the pancetta and cook until crispy, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Carefully add the vodka. Cook until reduced by half, for a minute or two. Add the cream and tomato sauce, then whisk to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes before removing from the heat.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook 2 minutes short of al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water before straining.
3. Return the pasta to the pot it was cooked in. Add the vodka sauce, reserved pasta water and pecorino cheese. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 2 minutes.
4. Serve immediately and top with grated pecorino and freshly ground black pepper.