Thursday, September 16, 2010

You-Won't-Be-Single-For-Long Vodka Cream Pasta

Yes, "You-Won't-Be-Single-For-Long Vodka Cream Pasta" is the actually name of this dish. It originates from Rachael Ray if that's any explanation. I know you noticed the bottled, Parmesan cheese in the background too (don't act like you didn't) and for that I don't happen to have a good explanation. The truth is I was out of the good stuff and I had this left over from a SK8 church dinner.

I've begun to notice a few things since I started this blog. One of them is that it takes me about 5-7 tries with the camera before I get a good picture of the food that I can use for this blog. I shift the angle, I adjust the light, I move what's in the background until I find a suitable picture. This particular night, I had 7 faces at the table staring, anxiously waiting for me to be done so they could eat already. So, alas, this is the picture you get, with fake Parmesan cheese in the background and half of Shawn's corona on the side. Actually, after all my complaining, I find it rather charming and real. Another, is that I like to make pasta. A lot, apparently. And this pasta? It's good.

I compared other pasta vodka recipes and decided on this one for it's complexity. It wasn't hard, it just had more going on than the other recipes. It incorporated chicken stock, shallots and fresh basil to beef up the flavor, along with a hefty cup of vodka added to the sauce. In the end it was comfort food done extremely well. The sauce is a bit on the thin side, so allow the pasta to sit in the pan and absorb it some before serving. It all comes together in about 30 minutes, true to Rachael's word.

You-Won't-Be-Single-For-Long Vodka Cream Pasta
adapted from Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals 2

serves 4

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
12 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn
crusty bread (optional)

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute garlic and shallots, 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka and reduce by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Add chicken stock and tomatoes. bring sauce to a bubble, then reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente, a bit firm to the bite. While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.

Stir cream into the vodka sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves. Serve immediately, along with crusty bread.

Rachael says that she originally published this recipe in her first cookbook, but let it have a come back in her second for a reason: a fan of the show wrote to say that she made this menu for her boyfriend who had seconds just before he proposed. Really. He said it was the second helping that did it. Hence the cutsey name. Although, my friend Deb over at the Smitten Kitchen website made this for her then boyfriend who then proposed not long after and is now her husband...Cue up the Twilight Zone music. Let me know if it works for you!