Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Vodka Penne - Inspired by La Cucina & the Kitchen Hero

On Monday, I was invited to a lovely afternoon tea in the Westbury Hotel by fellow food blogger & now TV celebrity and author of not one but two cookbooks, Mr. Donal Skehan.  Donal's newest book, Kitchen Hero has just been launched - and there's a TV series to accompany the book, coming to our screens very soon.  The Westbury have just launched the Kitchen Hero's Tasty Tea, featuring some of the delicious food from Donal's latest book which was served to us on the daintiest cake stands by some of the friendliest staff I've ever encountered.  It's €40 per person but it does include your very own copy of Kitchen Hero - a fantastic offer.

The Kitchen Hero Tasty Tea

One of the recipes in Kitchen Hero actually came from the lovely Lorraine (@italianfoodie) - the beauty behind La Cucina in Limerick. Aided & abetted by the handsome Bruno (@mritalianfoodie), they produce stunning Italian dishes at their award-winning restaurant in Castletroy.  It's fast, simple and utterly divine - perfect for a speedy supper during the week and I guarantee that you'll make this again and again.  Halfway through his plate of pasta, The Hubs turned to me & said that he'd quite happily eat double portions.  Praise indeed! My quantities feed two hungry people, so simply double, triple or quadruple to feed a crowd.  By the  way, I changed the ingredients slightly to suit our palate - more pancetta, some shallots, sundried tomato puree & I didn't add any salt.  To be honest, I don't think it needs any additional salt because of the pancetta & parmesan.  Taste it when you make it & decide for yourself.

Vodka Penne

160g Penne
15g Butter
200g Pancetta, cubed
2 Shallots, finely sliced
2 tbsp Vodka
100ml Cream
2 tbsp Sundried Tomato Puree
2 tbsp Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp Parmesan Cheese, grated
Freshly ground Black Pepper

Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.

Heat the butter in a large frying pan, add the pancetta & shallots & cook over a medium heat until the pancetta has started to go crispy.

Add the vodka & simmer for a minute or two (this lets the alcohol cook off) before adding the cream, tomato puree & parsley.

Allow the sauce to simmer for 4-5 minutes until it thickens up & reduces slightly.  Season to taste with black pepper.

When the pasta has cooked, drain it & add it to the sauce - mix well and serve with the grated Parmesan.

The Hubs absolutely loved it, as you can tell...


  1. Whats the point of the vodka? What flavour does it give?

  2. Good question! I found this on Google "My grandparents own a little resturante in Italy for almost 60years. salsa alla vodka panna "Vodka sauce" is not a gimmick, nor, was it invented to tell Vodka. My grandparents were making vodka sauce since before it was "Offically" invented in Bologna, Italy in the 1970's. The Vodka is used to release the acids and flavor in the sauce and also to enhance the sweetness of the cream even vodka dosent have a flavor on its own when mixed with the other ingredeints it has a flavor enhancer"

  3. Looks delicious. I think I might give it a go this week. What I love about Italian cooking is the variation from town to town. I had a friend that made something similar but used grappa not vodka.

  4. I saw a vodka penne recipe on The Pioneer Woman and wondered why the vodka was added! I've been meaning to make it for a while but this looks much better with the Pancetta!

  5. Looks delish, I'll definetly be giving it a go.

  6. It's surprising that something so easy to make tastes so delicious!

  7. I find myself back here staring at it before I go to bed! I think this is something I'll def be making very very soon!

  8. Guess what I made for dinner tonight?! ;)

  9. I love this recipe - it is SO quick and lovely and yummy!

    I might have told you on Twitter that I bought a full bottle of voddy to make this for some friends one night. I put 4 tablespoons into the pasta sauce yet somehow, there was not a drop left in the vodka bottle the next morning. Whoops!!

    Seriously though, this is a brilliantly quick pasta sauce. Go Donal and Lors!

  10. Hi Aoife, where do you buy the sundried tomato puree?? I saw you use it in your veggie pasta recipe too and want to try both these now :-)

  11. Hi Ciara - I used to buy it in Tesco but (as usual) they've discontinued it. Regular tomato puree will work just as well.

  12. Hi ok thanks a mill, will let u know how I get on with these!