Penne alla vodka
Ladies, consider yourselves warned. If you plan on serving this dish to two or more men, I suggest you make a double batch. I have learned from experience it doesn't last long! This is one of Will's favorite pasta dishes, and I always serve it with a strong red wine (Chianti is my personal favorite, but Nero d'Avola and Montepulciano d'Abruzzo are also good choices). This definitely isn't for dieters, but what I consider "comfort food." Everyone needs some once in a while!
Source: Adapted from The Sopranos Family Cookbook
1 lb penne, preferably De Cecco or Barilla
extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 28-oz. can of whole tomatoes*
1/2 lb prosciutto, cut into cross-strips **
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup vodka
salt, to taste
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
8 oz. fresh buffalo mozzarella, cut into little squares
1. Boil water in a large pot, salt generously. Cook penne approx. 8-9 minutes, or al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on high. Add garlic and brown, then add the prosciutto. Cook for two minutes.
3. Run the canned tomatoes through a food processor or blender for a few seconds, on the puree setting. Add the tomatoes and crushed red pepper to the skillet, and turn the heat down to low. Cook for five minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Add the heavy cream, stir for another two minutes until the tomato mixture is a very light pink. Add the vodka and stir for another minute. Add a little bit of salt to taste, stir well.
5. Add the penne to the tomato mixture and mix VERY well. Finally, add the two cheeses and mix well, letting the cheese slowly melt into the penne/tomato mixture. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting, and let the cheeses melt for another five minutes. Stir occasionally, and serve hot.
* When buying canned tomatoes, I either purchase Gourmet Italia or Contadina. However, PLEASE make sure you're not buying tomatoes with basil added. Honestly, I think it tastes disgusting and it gives off a nasty aftertaste. If you're absolutely crazy about basil and just have to have it in this dish, buy fresh basil at the supermarket, chop up a little bit and throw it in the tomato mixture before you add the cheeses.
** If there is an Italian grocery store in your area, I highly recommend purchasing imported prosciutto instead of domestic. It's definitely on the pricey side, but I promise you can taste the difference.