The secret to delicious restaurant cooking is that they add way more butter-cream-salt-sugar-oil than you would ever dare to do at home. You are pretty much paying someone else to NOT tell you how much fat-salt-sugar is on your plate. These ingredients go directly to the pleasure center of your brain, and helps bring you to the conclusion that you’ve just had a great meal out. It’s cheating, actually.
This restaurant “don’t ask don’t tell” policy is universal. Unless you go with my mom, then she interrogates the waiter until he goes back to the kitchen and asks the chef EXACTLY what is in the dish and in what amounts. But not me--if I am eating in a restaurant, and not eating sushi or a salad, then I want this pure primal fat-salt-sugar hit, and I don’t want to discuss it.
When cooking at home, I wouldn’t dare add as much fat-salt-sugar as they do in a restaurant. I am conscious of keeping things healthy for my friends and family with the “special occasion” clause, otherwise known as a “treat.” Once in a while I will make this Penne al a Vodka for that at-home restaurant fat-salt-sugar hit, and I tell myself it is still slightly better for you than anything at the local Italian-American Pasta Restaurant.
In fact, this recipe is so good, that we would never ever think to order it in a restaurant anymore because it is BETTER.
Now, I know you think I am always telling you, my loyal readers and fellow foodies, that my recipe is BEST. But I kid you not, once again, this is not just good, not just better, but the best.
As my grandmother used to tell me, “Good better best, never let it rest, until the good is better and the better best. “ And this recipe my friends is, the best.
The Best Penne al la Vodka
· 1 pound of penne pasta
· 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
· 1 medium onion, diced
· 2 cloves garlic, minced
· ¼ cup vodka, any quality
· 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (1/4 if you like it spicy)
· 28 ounces tomato sauce (see blog Getting Sauced, or you can use jarred such as Trader Joes’s or Barilla, (marinara, tomato basil, garlic, etc.)
· ¾ cup cream
· ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
· ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook penne according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, in large sauté pan heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion until tender. Add the minced garlic and cook for about a minute, keeping the garlic moving in the pan.
3. Add the vodka and crushed red pepper and cook until the vodka is reduced and seems to disappear.
4. Add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cream and the parmesan cheese and stir well until incorporated into the sauce.
5. When the pasta is finished cooking, drain and add it to the sauce and mix well. Add the fresh chopped basil and serve hot. Enjoy!