A lot of people have heard of Gigi Hadid's infamous Penne Alla Vodka recipe. I must give it to her it is, in a word, delicious. While I can appreciate the supermodel sharing her recipes, the dish has been around for a long time and no stranger for Italian cuisine. Another famous take on the dish is Carbonne's Spicy Rigatoni, which costs a whopping $32 per plate! That is a lot to shell out for something that can be recreated at home for around $10. Penne Alla Vodka is a creamy, savory, and drool-worthy comfort food that I could eat every day (seriously). I have made it a number of times now, experimenting with different ingredients. I included Pancetta one time and italian sausage another, which upped the savory component and added some protein. I sautéed the shallot and garlic in the fat the meat rendered; this gave it a subtle richness that didn't take away from the creamy sauce. It is easy to add one of these proteins for a more well rounded meal, since the vodka deglazes the pan after. The dish sans meat is already irresistible on its own and my personal preference. I encourage you to taste the sauce as you make it, adjusting the spiciness and thickness to your liking (with the peppers and reserved starchy pasta water).
1/4 cup olive oil
1 shallot or half an onion 🧅, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
5-6 Calabrian chili 🌶peppers, minced or 1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tbsp butter
1 lb rigatoni (or pasta of your choice)
2 tablespoons vodka
3 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup heavy cream
fresh basil or parsley to garnish
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more to garnish
1/4 cup reserved starchy pasta water
In a large saucepan over a medium flame, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped shallot and garlic, then cook until fragrant and soft. Next, add the tomato paste and cook until it becomes a dark brick red color.
Add in the vodka and cook until evaporated.
Add in the red pepper flakes to your desired spiciness level. Add heavy cream and stir until combined.
Season with salt and pepper. Remove sauce from the heat.
Cook pasta separately according to package directions minus a minute or two to allow the pasta to finish cooking in the sauce (until al dente).
When the pasta is done, save 1/4 - 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water before draining.
Add in the butter and stir over a low heat until it has fully melted.
Combine the pasta and pasta water (add more pasta water if you prefer a thinner consistency) to the sauce. Add fresh parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
Top with parmesan cheese and herbs to serve.