Pasta W/Vodka Sauce & Spicy Sausage
It is funny sometimes how things stick with you.
Years ago, (why do so many of my posts start with that…?) I was watching Giada DeLaurentiis make a pasta dish on one of her very first cooking shows, Everyday Italian. They featured the finished product first and it was wonderfully creamy and rich looking. I drooled all over the couch.
Then I heard what it was: Vodka Sauce. I wrinkled my nose and nearly changed the channel, but got caught up in all the adjectives she was using to describe the food. Tangy. Velvety. Smooth. All things I did NOT associate with vodka. So I put off doing whatever it is I was supposed to be doing (probably laundry) and watched.
Ooooh baby. It looked absolutely glorious. I mean, the dish was finished off with heavy cream and cheese. How could that be wrong?! (The correct answer to that is, it can’t.) My favorite part? Four ingredients. Four stinkin’ ingredients and you end up with this lovely, easy to make sauce that tastes extra special. And I have been making it ever since.I have mentioned before that our family likes to have an extra special pasta dish for our New Years dinner. This seafood one is a major favorite, but today’s recipe would be excellent as well. It really is a great meal for company and in my experience, adults and kids alike love the flavor. Don’t worry; the alcohol gets cooked out and the bite of the vodka mellows. No one eating this is in danger of getting schnockered. Although, what you do with any leftover vodka is your own business.
Vodka Sauce W/Spicy Sausage
Recipe adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis
I never serve this without the sausage, but obviously, you can omit it. If you don’t have sausage, this is outstanding served alongside grilled chicken. If you want to make it for company but don’t have the time to let the sauce simmer, make it a day or two ahead of time, but stop after you cook down the sauce and the vodka. Let it cool and store it in the fridge. Before you serve it, warm it gently on the stove and then continue with the recipe, adding the rest of the ingredients.
1 quart homemade or purchased plain marinara sauce
1 c vodka
1/2 c cream
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 lb spicy italian sausage in the casing
1 lb pasta-penne, penne rigati, fettuccine, or linguini all work well
fresh basil for garnish, if desired
In a medium sauce pan, heat the marinara sauce and the vodka together over medium heat. Bring it to a slow simmer and let the liquid evaporate until its thick again. This will take about 30 minutes, depending on your sauce. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions and set aside. Brown the sausages in their casings until cooked through, then slice into coin shaped pieces. Set aside. When the sauce has thickened and the vodka has lost its bite, add the cream. Gently heat through-do not let it bubble- and then stir in the cheese. Heat until cheese is melted and the whole sauce is smooth and creamy. Stir in the sausage and gently toss the whole thing with the pasta until coated evenly. Garnish with basil and serve immediately.