Today we’ll show you how to make one of the most famous Italian dish of the 80s: Penne alla Vodka with bacon. It is a first course of pasta topped with Vodka Sauce, made with bacon, vodka, tomatoes, onion and heavy cream.
Penne alla Vodka was the celebratory dish of World Pasta Day 2016 which was celebrated in Moscow on October 25. Nowadays this recipe is considered out of fashion in Italy, but Italian pasta makers of the Associazione delle Industrie del Dolce e della Pasta Italiane (AIDEPI) have decided to retrieve the recipe in this occasion.
According to Aidepi- reads a note- the plate establishes the closeness between two worlds and their culinary cultures. It tells the story of a spontaneous exchange, which combines Pasta, icon of the Italian cuisine, with Vodka, one of the symbols of Russia.
Are you ready to cook Penne alla Vodka classic recipe? Let’s start then!
Penne alla Vodka Classic Recipe
- 350 g (12 oz) of penne pasta
- 200 g (7 oz) of bacon
- half plastic cup of classic white vodka
- 200 g (7 oz) of heavy cream
- coarse and fine salt
Cut the bacon into small pieces (1). Meanwhile slice finely the shallot and place it to sautè for 2 minutes in a large no-stick frying pan with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (2). Add the bacon and cook it over low heat until it becomes slightly crispy (3).
Raise the heat and pour in half a plastic cup of vodka (4). Let evaporate the alcohol while maintaining the medium-high heat for a few minutes. When alcohol is completely evaporated, add tomato passata (5). You can make it with our recipe or buy it already made. If the the passata is too concentrated, add 1/2 cup of water. Season with salt, stir and cook for 8-10 minutes over high heat without a lid, stirring occasionally (6).
Meanwhile, bring to a boil a pot with salted water. Cook penne according to the cooking time written on the packaging. When the sauce is cooked, add the heavy cream (7). Raise slightly the heat and cook a few minutes, until you get a fairly thick and creamy wodka sauce, then turn off the heat and let it rest. Drain penne when they are al dente and put them into the vodka sauce (8). Stir with care, over medium heat, making them creamy and serve hot (9).
Penne alla Vodka Origins
Reading the name, Penne alla Vodka, one would wonder if this recipe comes just from Russia or not. The only certainty you have on Penne alla Vodka is that it’s not a Russian dish. There are two hypotheses about the origin of this recipe:
- the first is that it was born in mid 70s in a restaurant in Bologna, the Dante and it was prepared flambé in front of diners.
- The second says it would have been invented by a chef in New York. In any way it has been for many years a recipe very much in fashion in Italy during the 70s and 80s.
Penne alla Vodka Variations
- The traditional recipe would like to have, as main ingredient, bacon and not speck, although at times it’s used.
- Many people add garlic to the ingredients, which is absent in the original recipe, just because garlic has a strong flavor that would divert attention from the taste of vodka, bacon and heavy cream.
- The addition of Parmigiano cheese is to taste but is not recommended because the creamy effect is already given by the heavy cream. Parmigiano would be an excess that could make the dish very dense in texture.
- Today’s more nostalgic gourmet have revisited Penne alla Vodka recipe, adding, in many variants, pumpkin, nutmeg or chives, to make it more modern and fragrant.