This past year marked the first time we had our family Christmas dinner at a restaurant. Normally, we spend hours preparing the meal, but with two sets of parents visiting … I opted to book a reservation.
We went to an italian restaurant named Il Fornaio (horrible service, so don’t get me started). Fortunately, I ordered a pasta dish ‘Pennoni alla Vodka’, a creamy tomato sauce with smokey bacon over a large tube pasta. The sauce is slightly rich and a little tangy, with just a zing of vodka in the background.
Last weekend we had friends over for dinner and I thought the pasta dish would work well (i.e. quick and simple). I found a recipe that was similar to the dish I had at the restaurant. I tweaked it a little to add the bacon – you can’t leave out the bacon. The end result was perfect and everyone loved it. Next time I might try a larger pasta, but otherwise I thought this was fantastic.
Pasta alla Vodka
1 jar marinara sauce
1 cup vodka
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 lb. smokey slab bacon (I used black forest bacon)
1 lb. penne pasta
This is amazingly simple. Place bacon on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes in a preheated 400 oven. Bacon should be cooked through and slightly crisped. Remove and let cool, then slice into 1/2″ pieces.
Add marinara to a cooking pot. Use a stick blender to puree the sauce. Place over medium heat, add chopped bacon and vodka. Simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions and then drain.
When sauce has simmered for 20 minutes, add parmesan and cream. Simmer for 3 additional minutes. Pour sauce over pasta and toss.