Penne alla Vodka with Bacon
Bacon enhances the taste of classic penne alla vodka.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1/4 pound pancetta or guanciale or bacon, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small fresh chili pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/2 cup vodka
- 1 cup stock
- 1 can plum tomatoes (28-32 ounces)
- A few leaves of basil, torn
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 pound penne rigate
- Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Heat the EVOO in a Dutch oven or deep skillet. Add the pancetta, guanciale or bacon and crisp at the edges, 2-3 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, bay, chili pepper and thyme; cook to tender. Add the tomato paste, stir for 1 minute, then add the flour and stir for a minute more. Add the vodka, then the stock, tomatoes and basil. Break up the tomatoes and simmer.
Add the cream and cook for 30 minutes at a gentle bubble.
Cook the pasta to al dente in salted boiling water; reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water. Drain the pasta, then toss with the sauce and the starchy cooking water. Remove from the heat, toss with a handful of cheese and serve.