Cheap vodka & overpriced organic tomatoes belong together…

A coupla entries ago, I wrote about mole and how it was one of my favorite recipes ‘cos I could mess with the recipe every time I made it. The same goes for many of the things I make, e.g. I can readily see jambalaya becoming such a quote-unquote recipe. There is one recipe I’ve decided I will never try that with again: vodka sauce.

I once left out the celery, figuring it wasn’t worth the trip to the store when I had everything else. Stupid. There is some kinda alchemy I don’t understand that goes on with the celery and vodka. I tried to serve it over linguine at a zombie party, hoping that it would invoke the image of a certain well-known Romero scene. Funny, but stupid. The creamier texture of gnocchi really melds with the creaminess of the sauce. Once used dried gnocchi, not as good. I even tried to double it once, which not only was hard to manage, but my wrist nearly fell off from all the chopping. Now, I know better, don’t mess with it.

Well, to be fair, I often add some fresh hot peppers instead of the pepper flakes. And if I feel lazy, I’ll use canned tomatoes. And wikipedia notes “In the Tuscan area of Italy, spinach-and-ricotta-flavored gnocchi are called strozzapreti, or priest-stranglers.” If I found those, I’d definately use them.

Oh, and I recommend cheap vodka for this. Expensive vodka doesn’t have much flavor; that’s why it’s expensive. Well, that and advertising budgets for things like this.

Vodka sauce ~6 servings
(with a nod to A.N., who taught me that sometimes following recipes to the letter is a good idea)
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cup vodka
2 large carrots
2 stalks celery
8 Roma tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
2 md sweet onions
Olive oil (just enough to glaze pan)
Crushed red pepper
Lots of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Blanche, peel and seed tomatoes. Finely (and I mean finely) dice all the vegetables. Fry onions in olive oil in a large, deep pan until clear, adding garlic at last minute. Add tomatoes, carrots, celery, vodka and a few pinches of pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce to a lively simmer ~30 minutes until sauce is quite thick. Turn heat to lowest setting for at least two minutes. Add cream while stirring. Stir over low heat until cream thickens. Serve over gnocchi with lots of grated Parm and red pepper to taste.

BTW, isn’t it wonderfully obnoxious how I wrote out “quote-unquote” in that first paragraph? Isn’t even better when I put it in quotes? It reminds me of a friend’s intentional use of the word ‘tomarrow’ repeatedly in a recent bulletin post. Definately obnoxious.


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