Whether or not this dish of tube-shaped penne pasta lavished with a peppery, vodka-laced cream and tomato sauce was created in Italy is a matter of heated debate in some quarters; some say it was the result of aggressive marketing on the part of vodka importers. Whatever the case, it has become firmly entrenched as an Italian American classic.
- Kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 lb. penne
- 1⁄4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
- 12 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 (32-oz.) can whole, peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand
- 1⁄4 cup vodka
- 3⁄4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup parmesan
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Finely chopped parsley, to garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat; add penne, and cook, stirring, until al dente, about 11 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat; add chile flakes and garlic, and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and vodka, and cook, stirring, until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and cheese, season with salt and pepper, and stir until smooth. Drain pasta, and transfer to pan with sauce; toss pasta with sauce until evenly coated. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with parsley.