Enzo's Penne a la Vodka -

16    ounces dry penne pasta,         cooked, see note

1      medium onion, finely chopped

2      Tbsp butter

2      Tbsp olive oil

1      (28 ounce) can  Italian plum tomatoes

8      ounces half&half cream

Pepper Vodka (see note)

pinch salt to taste

Grated Parmesan cheese


Saute onions in butter and olive oil until transparent.  Drain tomatoes, reserving liquid, then puree them in a blender or food processor. Add tomatoes to onions, along with half of the tomato liquid.  Cook over a medium heat 20 to 25 minutes or until all liquid content is reduced.  Meanwhile in separate saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions, drain very well and set aside.


When tomato sauce is ready, stir in cream, bring to a near  boil, reduce heat and cook 2 to 3 minutes until cream and tomatoes are well blended.  Stir in pepper vodka, mix, stir in hot cooked penne pasta.  Stir together to blend.  Liberally sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. 


Chef's notes:  Pepper vodka is a commercial item available at any liquor store, but it does not have the concentrated flavor Enzo Perlini prefers.  For a homemade version, stir 1/4 teaspoon red crushed pepper in 4 Tbsp of vodka.  Put aside and let marinade 3 hours or overnight.  Using a coffee filter or fine cloth napkin, allow pepper vodka to filter.  Remove and discard filter and set vodka concentrate aside.  Penne is large straight tubes of macaroni cut on the diagonal.


MJ's Notes: Bow Tie pasta also works well.  Sometimes I cook down the tomatoes a few hours before dinner and turn off the burner.  Then, 20 minutes before dinner, turn it back on, continue with the recipe and start cooking the pasta.