Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pasta with Vodka Cream sauce

Hello again, everyone!  Happy Thursday!  I probably have mentioned how I don't often drink alcohol, but I cook with it frequently.  I find that it really adds a ton of flavor to the food, and that's always welcome!
Since I don't drink often, our liquor cabinet is so sparse, its nonexistent.  We sometimes have a bottle of vodka in the freezer, but we haven't had any in awhile.  On our vacation, my husband picked up a mini bottle of vodka, because he knows I like to make pasta with vodka cream sauce.  He's a keeper!  
Earlier this week, my husband texted me that a friend of his was wanting to hang out after work, so we agreed to just do our own thing for supper.  So, I scratched the plans for pork schnitzel and decided to whip up some vodka cream sauce with pasta.
Since it was just for me, I didn't make the pasta from scratch, I just used some boxed Rigatoni, and of course, that was just fine!  You can use whatever pasta you want for this sauce, but I like one that has some edges on it, to grip the sauce.
This recipe is enough for two normal sized portions, or one really hearty portion, and came together in the time it took me to boil the pasta!  Because this isn't a family sized recipe, this will easily double, or multiply to whatever amount you need.
Here's your grocery list for this one:
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced or grated
 1 Tbs butter, divided into 1/2 Tbs pats
1 Tbs tomato paste
1/4 C vodka (the cheap stuff is just fine here)
1 C tomato sauce
1/3 C heavy cream
1/2 Tbs dried parsley
1/2 Tbs dried basil
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt to taste

Pasta of choice

To start off with, bring your pasta water up to a boil, and boil according to the box instructions, draining off about 1 minute shy of directions.  Keep some of the pasta water aside, in case you need to thin out your sauce some later.
While your pasta is cooking, in a medium sized sauce pot, add your grated or minced garlic, and 1 of the reserved 1/2 Tbs pats of butter.  Let the butter melt as the garlic cooks, over medium low heat, about 1 minute.  

Add in your dried herbs, and continue to cook over medium low heat for another minute or so.  After the minute, add in the tomato paste, and continue cooking over medium low heat for another couple of minutes.  You want to keep stirring this, so that the garlic doesn't burn, but if the heat is over medium low, you should be fine.

Okay!  Now it's time to add in the vodka!  I like to turn the heat off of my stove when I add the vodka (or I could just move the pot off of the stove, but I have a gas stove, so there is an open flame.  As we all know, open flame with highly flammable liquid can easily equal disaster.  So, I just kill the flame for about 5 seconds while I pour it in); after adding the vodka in, stir it well, and let it reduce down for a minute, over medium heat.  This will help cook off some of the raw vodka flavor.

Pour in your tomato sauce, and heavy cream, and stir well.  Taste at this point, and check to see how much salt you need to add in, and salt to taste.

The cream will make your sauce a light pink color, and add a bit of sweetness.  To finish the sauce, I like to add in the other 1/2 Tbs pat of butter, but that's optional.

Once your pasta is cooked, pour the drained pasta into your sauce, and let it finish cooking over medium heat, for another minute or so.  I like my pasta overcooked (I know, I know....don't shoot me!), so I let it cook with the sauce for a couple of minutes.  The sauce has a lovely coating consistency, but if your sauce is too thick, or thickens up too much while the pasta is finishing off in it, add in some of the reserved pasta water to thin it out just a bit.

This is some saucy goodness.  Believe me.  I love how it coats the pasta.  You can top with some Parmesan, but I like to top mine with some shredded mozzarella.