Yesterday was not what I would call a fun day. I raced home from work to find Jennifer in excruciating pain. Luckily, she had an appointment with the pain management doctor already scheduled. Let me tell you, it is not easy to watch someone in so much pain when all you can do is rub their back not knowing if it will ever get better. She did get yet another shot in her spinal cord. I can only hope these start to help. The last one reduced the pain by half but not all the way, and returned a few days later. Right after her doctor visit, we came home and I needed to make something for dinner. Sam offered to run out to the store so I gave him a list of ingredients for Penne Ala Vodka to pick up.

Surprisingly or not so strikingly depending how you look at it, I had Vodka on hand, so I only needed him to pick up a few ingredients: Pancetta, heavy cream, tomato sauce, and of course Penne Pasta. I have butter, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese on hand.

Sam returned with a bag full of groceries. There was the pasta, it was Ronzoni which is what I grew up on. Then there was the heavy cream. He also got apples for himself. In the freezer, he put Heath flavored Klondike ice cream bars as a surprise for Jennifer. Then I reached into the bag and when I pulled out the pancetta, it was not pancetta at all. Sam said I had asked for Prosciutto instead of Pancetta. Anything is possible I guess. Now is when you have to ask yourself. DO I go BACK to the store and get what I want or do I make do with what I have? Besides what’s the difference between Prosciutto and Pancetta besides the enormous cost? Well for one they come from opposite ends of the hog. Second, Prosciutto is cured and meant to be eaten raw. Pancetta is not cured and must be cooked before its eaten. The taste however, well, the difference is debatable. The real question is will Jennifer, Sam, or my mother in-law care? Certainly not my mother in-law.

Needless to say I said “what the fuckin hell” (to myself) and decided to use said expensive cured meat in my Ala Vodka Sauce and opened a beer.

Here is a brief synopsis of how I made dinner last night. I also live streamed it on INSTAGRAM if you were watching.

Once the water was at a rapid boil, I added the pasta to it and set the timer ticking. A few minutes before the pasta was al dente, I added the heavy cream and parmesan cheese to the sauce.

I drained the pastas and poured it into the sauce and coated it the pasta evenly. I served it with a small salad with a vinaigrette dressing.

HERE is the Official recipe below.


1 pkg penne or ziti rigati or rigatoni

4 tablespoons butter

½ pound pancetta bacon

2/3 cup vodka

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 28 oz. can tomato sauce

1 28 oz. can crushed

1 cup Parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic minced

½ small onion minced

1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

1 tbsp. Fresh parsley (chopped fine)


Boil a large pot of water with salt added for the pasta.

In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in ½ pound pancetta bacon and cook while continue to stir occasionally until brown. Add garlic and onion continue to cook until onion is translucent being careful not to brown the garlic (fried brown garlic is bitter unlike roasted garlic). 

Add vodka and stir until it is reduced by half, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.

Remove the sauce from heat and stir in the cheese, parsley and crushed red pepper. Toss sauce with pasta to coat evenly and serve.

NOTES: serve with garlic bread. Double recipe and serve in buffet tray for comany.

So that was my day. At least penne must have been good everyone went back for seconds and there were no leftovers. HUH, no leftovers, its been a long time since that had happened. Jennifer is resting this morning and I’m am off to the old grist mill. I wonder if that’s where they get “back to the old grind” from?

Have fun today and stay healthy!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

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