Penne a la Vodka (Nick and Toni’s Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola)

Original recipe from Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup good olive oil (I use 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 cup vodka (I use 1/2 cup)
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled plum tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt (I use 1.5 teaspoons)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound penne pasta
  • 4 tablespoons fresh oregano
  • 3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream (I use 1/2 cup)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof saute pan over medium heat, add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and dried oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Add the vodka and continue cooking until the mixture is reduced by half.
  3. Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes through a sieve and crush them into the pan with your hands. Add salt and a pinch of black pepper. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and place it in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente. Drain and set aside.
  5. Place the tomato mixture in a blender and puree in batches until the sauce is a smooth consistency. Return to the pan.
  6. Reheat the sauce, add 2 tablespoons fresh oregano and enough heavy cream to make the sauce a creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes. Toss the pasta into the sauce and cook for 2 minutes more.
  7. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Serve with an additional sprinkle of Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh oregano on each plate.

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