The sauce is rich with bacon and cream or lean with skim evaporated milk and takes on a slightly spicy flavor from the vodka. This is a classic pasta dish.
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Yields: 6-8 Servings
•1/4 pound bacon, diced (can also use pancetta or prosciutto)
•1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
•6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
•1 medium onion, diced
•1/2 cup vodka
•2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, with their juice, pureed in a blender
•1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
•Salt, to taste
•1 cup heavy cream or 1-1/2 cups evaporated skim milk (for a leaner version)
•2 (16-ounce) boxes penne pasta
•24 fresh basil leaves, chopped
•1-1/2 cups freshly grated Romano cheese
1Place a large pot of cold, salted water over high heat to come to a boil.
2In a large saute pan on medium heat, cook and render fat from the bacon. (If you are using pancetta or prosciutto, skip this step and just saute it with the garlic.) Once the bacon is almost crisp, remove it from the pan and set it aside. Do not clean the pan.
3Add the olive oil and, when it is hot, return the bacon to the pan along with the garlic.
4Saute until the garlic turns light golden brown, then add the onion and saute until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the vodka and let it reduce by half, then add the tomatoes, red pepper, and salt. Simmer the sauce uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the heavy cream and simmer another 10 minutes.
5Once you've added the cream, put the pasta in the boiling water and cook until al dente according to package directions. Remove the sauce from the heat, add the basil and the cheese, and stir well. Drain the pasta, shock it with a little cold water, and return it to the pot it was cooked in. Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix gently until the pasta is coated completely. Serve immediately.