Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Authentic Penne a la Vodka with Proscuitto and Peas

This authentic restaurant-styled penne a la vodka dish will truly amaze your friends and family, they will bow down to you.

Impress them easily while serving this up with warm crusty garlic bread and salad for a complete meal.

See below for
additional variations on this dish including using chicken or shrimp and/or additional vegetables.


  • 3/4 pound penne pasta

  • 10 slices of Prosciutto de Parma (American Prosciutto ok to use if budget doesn't allow) !***Ask butcher/deli person, to slice it thicker than normally, say 1/32"-1/16" thick

  • 1 and 1/2-2 cups of freshly grated Parmasean de Reggiano Cheese (please no green can stuff cheese ok?)

  • 2 cups frozen peas

  • 2 cups heavy cream, (light cream and half-n-half ok to use)

  • 1 small can of tomato paste

  • 1 medium onion diced small

  • 2 cloves garlic minced

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • Kosher salt and fresh crack pepper

  • 2 shakes of crushed red pepper

  • 1/2 cup vodka - more if you had a bad day, in a separate glass of course...

  • 1 cup of reserved pasta water
Equipment needed: Deep skillet to make sauce in and large enough to add cooked pasta in later (I use my "Le Creuset" Le Creuset 10-Inch Skillet deep frying pan since I can bring it right to the table"), and pot for pasta to boil in. Also needed is a whisk and pasta strainer.

  1. Put water in pot to boil for pasta. Once at a rolling boil, then add dash of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of salt.

  2. Get out your skillet, start to heat it up on low without any oil in it at first.

  3. While skillet heats up on low, dice up that onion and slice and dice up prosciutto.

  4. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to skillet and bring heat up to medium-medium high, once butter is bubbling, add diced onions and sauté till almost translucent.

  5. Grate cheese at this point and set aside momentarily.

  6. Add prosciutto, crushed red pepper and freshly cracked black pepper and let it brown slightly - maybe five minutes, at this point throw the pasta in the boiling salted water and set your timer for 10 minutes.

  7. Add garlic to skillet, continue to sauté 2 minutes.

  8. Next turn off heat from under skillet for a moment, carefully add 1/2 cup vodka. Take second sip of your own vodka from your glass and return to paying some attention to what's in the skillet.

  9. Put heat back under skillet to medium-high.

  10. With whisk, scrape bottom of skillet to get all those great extra bits I like to call "flavor enhancers" that have formed from the sugars of the onions and prosciutto.

  11. Keep stirring till vodka is almost 1/2 evaporated (roughly 3 minutes) and add that can of tomato paste you forgot to open before, put heat on medium low, continue stirring.

  12. Take another sip from your glass and stir up that penne pasta so it doesn't stick, ok you are doing a great job so far! Now, back to the skillet.

  13. After 3-4 minutes, add cream, whisk to incorporate cream into what's cooking in your skillet.

  14. Once cream starts to bubble, add 1 cup of grated cheese, and stir some more.

  15. Taste-test penne pasta, it should be "al dente" but at least cooked through (no white inner rings). Drain pasta but try to reserve at least one cup of the pasta water.

  16. Throw peas into sauce along with pasta. Call troops to table.

  17. If sauce is too thick for your liking, you can "stretch it" by adding some of the pasta water or if you are a dangerous one who likes to live on the edge, add a little more cream.

  18. Taste-test sauce, add salt to your liking.
Serve your Penne a la Vodka dish proudly, tell them someone else has to clean up and get ready to be bowed down to...relish in your royal achievements and have someone else fix you up another glass - hey you had a bad day right? Well you are off to having a fantastic night starting with this amazing dish! Enjoy! Use the remaining grated cheese to top off your plated dishes.
I have many other recipes here at my Divaliscious Dinner and blog - come on by

Alterations and Additions to Penne a la Vodka Ideas:
  1. Like shrimp? Add de-veined with tails removed shrimp to skillet after prosciutto has browned prior adding vodka. Same with cut up chicken breast.
  2. Want veggies in? Add frozen or fresh veggies to pasta water five minutes before pasta is finished.
  3. You can also use ham or bacon or a combination instead of the prosciutto.
I have done all variations with excellent results. Let me know if you liked it once you tried it!

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