Vodka Sauce

Vodka Sauce

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1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 ounces pancetta, diced (optional)

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 cup vodka

1 tablespoon tomato paste

8 San Marzano tomatoes

Pinch of sugar

2 basil sprigs

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup heavy cream


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and set up a bowl of ice water. Boil San Marzanos for 3 minutes, then transfer to ice water. Remove when cool, and peel skins off. Mash tomato flesh with your hands, a potato masher, or blend with a food processor.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Sauté the pancetta (optional), garlic and crushed red pepper over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with vodka. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the peeled and crushed tomatoes. Stir in the sugar and basil, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and is reduced to 3 cups, about 30 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper. Discard the basil sprigs and garlic. Add heavy cream and simmer for 5 minutes.

Orecchiette with salad turnips, spinach, shiitakes, and bacon

Orecchiette with salad turnips, spinach, shiitakes, and bacon

Serves two

10 oz orrechiette pasta

5 oz bacon (Llano seco is nice) or pancetta

¼ lb shiitake mushrooms

½ tsp balsamic vinegar

1 bunch salad turnips with their greens

5 cloves garlic

¼ lb spinach

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

6 sprigs thyme, de-stemmed or 2 Tb chopped parsley

1 Tb marsala wine or white wine

 Cook bacon in a skillet on a medium-low flame until browned. As bacon cooks, boil water, cook the orecchiette and strain. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. And shiitake stems to rendered fat and cook for 30 seconds, then add shiitake heads. Remove shiitakes after 5 minutes and place in the bacon bowl with ½ tsp of balsamic vinegar. Add turnip roots to bacon fat, then add garlic after two minutes, and then turnip greens and spinach after three more minutes. Stir occasionally until cooked down, about 8-10 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and thyme or parsley and stir. Add a splash of marsala or white wine. Heat for thirty seconds, then incorporate bacon and shiitakes. Finally, stir in pasta and enjoy.