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.