Thursday, February 20, 2014

A True Crowd Pleaser

Feeding a crowd. It can be stressful, but it can also be fun. It's a great time to experiment with new recipes. But if the gathering is last-minute, it's great to have fool-proof, crowd-pleasing recipes in your back pocket.

This recipe is the one of those.

Now, in the interest of complete honesty, the first time I made this it wasn't quite crowd-pleasing. I had soaked the red pepper flakes in the vodka for too long, and it was too spicy for some members of my family to eat. Since then, I've omitted the red pepper flakes entirely, and I now have a winner on my hands.

I've learned that everyone has a different tolerance when it comes to heat, so it's better to err on the side of caution. And there is so much flavor in this recipe, the missing flakes don't hurt the dish at all.

So the next time you need to feed a crowd, give this recipe a try.

Vodka Sauce
Makes enough sauce for 1 lb. of pasta


  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 slices prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter


  1. Sauté onion and prosciutto in olive oil for 8 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes and vodka. Cook on low for 30 minutes.
  3. Add cream, cheese, and butter. Cook on low for another 20 minutes.
  4. Serve over your favorite pasta.

Notes from my country kitchen:

  • To add some heat to the dish, soak 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes in the vodka for 10 minutes. Then discard the flakes.
  • Do not use pre-packaged Parmesan cheese, such as Kraft. These cheese isn't grated fine enough, and it will give the sauce a grainy taste. Use grated cheese from the deli department of your market.
  • To stretch this dish a little further, use 1 lb. of mini penne or some other short-cut pasta.
  • For that restaurant feel, add 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed, at the end and stir until heated through.

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