Penne with Vodka Sauce
Adapted from in The Kitchn
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces, finely chopped bacon
1/2 sweet onion, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3-4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I like Cento brand, as it is not from concentrate)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, (I found this the perfect amount, but adjust to your liking)
2 teaspoons sugar (really, the sugar is important)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound (16 ounces) penne pasta cooked al dante
Parmesan cheese, for serving
Chopped parsley, for serving
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 4-5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
~Reduce heat to medium. Add the onions and cook until softened about 5 minutes.
~Add the tomato paste and garlic, stirring to combine, and sauté for 2 more minutes.
~Stir the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, sugar, and salt into the onion mixture.
~Stir in the vodka and increase heat back to medium-high.
~Briskly simmer for 8 - 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the alcohol flavor has cooked off. (Careful not to have the heat too high for risk of a flare-up!!)
~Turn off heat and whisk in heavy cream.
~While making the vodka sauce, bring a large stockpot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water before draining.
~Gently fold the cooked penne into the vodka sauce (if necessary, to warm up the sauce, cook on low heat for another couple of minutes). I use a little less than one pound of pasta because I like mine super saucy.
~Toss with a bit of pasta water if sauce is too thick. (I added the remaining reserved pasta water to my leftovers before packing them away)
Season with additional salt and red pepper flakes if desired, top with the reserved crispy bacon and serve with fresh Parmesan and chopped parsley.