I was in the mood to make some pasta for lunch this weekend, and searched the internet for a simple recipe that would fulfil my craving for carbs. I decided to try Rachael Ray’s famous “You Won’t Be Single For Long” Vodka Cream Pasta, which became a sensation after being featured on Oprah.
You might be thinking what is the point of using vodka in the sauce? Well, I had the same question. To satisfy my culinary curiosity I did some googling. Apparently, the alcohol (ethanol) in the vodka helps the tomatoes release its flavors and makes it taste sweeter. You wouldn’t taste the alcohol because most of it is cooked off with the heat.
Do use a penne rigate for this recipe, because the ridges along this cylindrical pasta is good for catching the sauce.
I don’t understand why this recipe is known to be Rachael Ray’s most romantic recipe, but, I do give it a thumbs up, and will definitely make this again. The original recipe is for 4, but I halved everything and it worked out fine.
Vodka Cream Pasta
1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup vodka
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
500 mL chopped tomato, canned
2 1/2 cups penne rigate
10 basil leaves
Heat the olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the butter, garlic and shallots and saute for 3 minutes.
Add the vodka to the pan and cook for 2 minutes (or to the vodka reduces by half). Then add the chicken stock and canned tomatoes, bringing the sauce to a bubble. Reduce the heat to low, and allow the sauce to simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add salt and the penne, cook until al dente. Make sure it has a bite to it, otherwise, the pasta would be overcooked after adding it to the sauce.
Stir the cream into the tomato sauce, and you will see it become this pretty pink color. Turn the heat to medium and bring the sauce to a bubble again. Remove it from the heat.
Drain the pasta. Keep a few tablespoons of the pasta water (just in case you find your sauce to thick).
Add the pasta to the tomato sauce, and tear in the basil leaves and mix. If you find the sauce too thick, you can add a bit of the pasta water to loosen it up.
Serve and garnish with some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.