Thursday, October 1, 2009

Variations on a Theme

Rustic Penne Pasta with Vodka Sauce

Vodka. It's not just for dirty martinis. This yummy variation on my Simple and Delicious Basic Marinara Sauce recipe never fails to impress company. The saltiness of the prosciutto coupled with the slight sweetness of the sauce is a sophisticated flavor combination that makes guests believe you were slaving over the hot stove all day 1950s housewife-style, when really it can be on the table in 30 minutes flat. Really. The creamy, tangy sauce (sans chicken and prosciutto) is also great for vegetarians


- 16 oz. penne pasta
- 3 c. Simple and Delicious Basic Marinara Sauce (see Feelin' Saucy: 9/27/09)
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced diagonally across the grain to 1/4" thick
- 5-6 oz. sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/2" strips
- 1/2 c. heavy cream, room temperature
- 1 c. descent quality vodka (just don't use bottom-shelf gut-rot crap)
- 1 c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

Bring basic marinara sauce and vodka to a boil over high heat in a large sauce pot or Dutch oven. Reduce heat to low and simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes to thicken.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook penne to al dente (about 9 minutes, but follow package instructions). Drain pasta and set aside.

While pasta and sauce are working, heat olive oil over medium-high in a large non-stick pan and add sliced chicken. Allow chicken to work until cooked through and no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

When sauce is ready, remove from heat and stir in grated Parmesan cheese until well-combined. Slowly add heavy cream (make sure the the cream is room temperature- cold cream will curdle in the hot sauce) and stir to combine. Add cooked pasta, chicken, and prosciutto to sauce, and toss until well combined. Divide among plates and sprinkle additional grated Parmesan over pasta if desired.

Serves 4-6.

It's really, really good.

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