Saturday, January 3, 2009

I made Rigatoni alla Vodka.

Last night I made an old favorite, rigatoni with vodka sauce. Here's whatchaneed and whatchaneed to do...

3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 large yellow onion, diced small
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1/2 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons of vodka*
3 tablespoons of brandy*
heavy cream (at least 1/4 cup, though one could use up to 1 cup according to taste)
grated Parmesan cheese (3/4 cup)
1 can crushed tomatoes

1 lb. cooked rigatoni, boiled in a well salted pot of water (you may use another pasta, if you'd like - farfalle/bowties, penne, and spinach fettucine work beautifully)

1. In a small saucepan, over medium heat melt the butter and then add the onion, salt, black pepper, and red pepper. Tip: Add a drizzle of olive oil so the butter won't burn!
2. When the onions and butter mixture is creamy and somewhat translucent, add the vodka and brandy. Stir occasionally and let simmer until the alcohol has cooked down a bit into the onions.
3. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir. Cover the saucepan with its lid and let cook for about 25 minutes. Tip: If you have some time to spare, let the sauce mixture cook on medium heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally--the longer the sauce cooks on a low heat, the better it will taste.
4. Drizzle the heavy cream into the tomato sauce mixture and stir or whisk well so the cream doesn't curdle. Remove saucepan from heat.
5. Add the Parmesan cheese and whisk/stir vigorously until it is combined.
6. Pour sauce over cooked pasta. Toss and serve. Sprinkle more red pepper and Parmesan cheese to taste.

*The vodka and brandy are optional - the sauce will still taste good without them, but they really do add an extra kick that makes this dish special.

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