For the main course of our Valentine’s Day dinner at home, I decided to copycat one of Dan’s favorite recipes from a nearby restaurant we love. I had a lot of fun making my own version of the dish, and I’ll probably do this again soon with some of our other faves. Hello, truffle mac n’ cheese from Prime 112.
Penne with Vodka Sauce, Prosciutto, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Peas
Partly adapted from recipe courtesy of Chef Carla Pelligrino of Rao’s in Las Vegas.
Serves: 8-10. I made a big batch because it’s Daniel’s favorite. Feel free to cut in half.
- 1/2 pound prosciutto, chopped into pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 large white onions, finely chopped
- 2 28oz cans canned peeled Italian tomatoes, blended into sauce
- 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packaged in olive oil
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
- 1 quart heavy cream reduced by half (1/2 quart)
- 3/4 cup vodka
- 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen and thawed
- Salt and pepper
- 2 pounds penne liscie # 40 (recommended: De Cecco), cooked al dente
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (this is the good stuff, buy a block and grate it yourself – so worth it)
Place a heavy pan or Dutch oven on medium heat. Add the olive oil and the butter. When the butter melts and becomes foamy add the chopped onions, let them saute until crispy, and do not let them brown.
As you start cooking the onions, put a small large pot over a burner on medium to medium-high heat and pour in the cream. This way it can reduce down as you are cooking. When it reduces by half, remove from heat and set aside. Learn from my mistake: Make sure to use a large enough pot for this, otherwise it will boil over and you will end up with a big mess (especially bad if you don’t have your own ridiculously amazing cleaning machine named Daniel to pick up the pieces).
Add the prosciutto to the onions, lower the heat and let it sweat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. (Note: I like to season dishes at different stages as I am cooking. I find it adds much more flavor to the dish than seasoning once at the end – just be careful not to overdo it.)
Add the tomato sauce and sun-dried tomatoes and simmer for another 30 minutes. Then add the parsley, simmer for a few more minutes, add the reduced heavy cream and the vodka, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add the peas. Check the consistency and simmer it for longer if necessary. As with any great tomato sauce, the longer you let it simmer, the better.
Mix the cooked penne into the sauce, check the seasoning, and let it simmer a couple more minutes. Serve with some good bread and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table.