Thursday, October 16, 2008

Penne A La Vodka Casserole

Let me just start by saying yum!

This meal took me what felt like forever to make. Between simmering the sauce for 40 minutes and then baking it for 45 minutes, all the waiting was pure torture. Come on Emeril, I need some instant satisfaction! But despite that loooong cooking time, it was so very worth it.

I've bought vodka sauce from the grocery store before pre-made. It's very yummy over pasta. I'd never made it from scratch, however. Good thing we had a supply of vodka in the pantry, because it needed a half cup. That must be why it's so good.

Definitely try this - it's worth the time and effort! And it's great comfort food!

Penne A La Vodka Casserole
(recipe adapted from Emeril)

4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, cut crosswise into 1-inch slices
1 lb. hot Italian sausage, cut crosswise into 1-inch slices
4 cups thinly sliced onions
1 and 3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup vodka
Two 16-oz. cans whole tomatoes, crushed in their juices
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 pound penne pasta
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
1 and 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

1. Heat 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over high heat. Add the sausages and cook, stirring, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, 3/4 tsp. salt, and the black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are just soft, about 4 minutes. Add the basil and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the vodka and tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes. Add the garlic powder and heavy cream, stir to mix, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

2. To cook the pasta, combine 4 quarts water, the olive oil, and the remaining tsp. salt in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain well. Combine half of the ricotta cheese and half of the Parmesan-Reggiano with the remining 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Add the pasta and toss to coat evenly. Add the sausage mixture and mix well. Add the remaining ricotta cheese and the remaining Parmesan-Reggiano and mix well.

3. Transfer the mixture to a 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Bake until bubbly and golden, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven. Serve with warm crusty bread.


Michelle A'etonu said...

this looks wonderful! i'm going to have to try it!

Cakelaw said...

I have to agree that despite ll the time it took to make, it looks like it was worth it. And pasta with vodka - gotta be good ;)