Vodka (Sauce) and Chicken

A few weeks ago Nathan and I had the idea to make some fruit infused vodka.  Apparently, we did something very, very wrong… our mint infused vodka tasted more like vodka tea and the peach… well we won’t even go there.  After our abysmal failure we abandoned the project and we tried to come up with a use for the leftover vodka (besides drinking it.)  Fortunately, it was the perfect amount for making this rich and zesty sauce and as a result we discovered that we like eating vodka more than drinking it.

The sauce was served atop our very own handmade fresh pasta that we made with our handy dandy new KitchenAid Pasta Maker Attachment. (Thank you wedding registry!) Alongside the pasta dish we made some easy breaded chicken using homemade breadcrumbs, egg, and freshly grated parmesan cheese. We actually managed to use almost every appliance we own and dirtied most of our dishes in the process but the end result was well worth the dirty dishes that we (Nathan) did after dinner.

Don’t worry mom…there was enough for leftovers!

Katryn’s Wine Pairing: D’Aquino Chianti, Potdera Italy

Rating: 7 out of 10

When I was 12 years old I bought a bottle of Chianti almost identical to this one.  Ok, maybe my Mom bought it, and maybe I didn’t get to drink any but I did get to dance with it….on my head.

My ballet class performed a dance (aptly named “The Bottle Dance”) in which we performed the majority of the dance with Chianti bottles balanced precariously on our bunned and hair-sprayed young heads. When I saw the baskety-bottled Chianti in the store it took every ounce of my restraint and sense of decorum to stop myself from placing the bottle on my head and sashaying down the aisles.  This time though I got to buy the bottle and drink it myself, although I can’t promise that I won’t still put the bottle on my head and sashay in the privacy of our apartment…

This chianti was a good basic table wine could be enjoyed with all sorts of Italian food.  It has a very acidic aroma but goes down nice and smooth with mild flavors that won’t over-power your food.  Simple and sufficient but nothing to write home about.

Nathan’s Beer Pairing: Birra Moretti Premium Lager

Rating: 6 out of 10

No, don’t worry, I’m not gonna make you watch me dance around with a beer bottle on my head while I’m wearing a leotard like Katryn did.

Truth be told, I just wanted an Italian beer to drink with our Italian meal and I didn’t know of any other than Peroni (which I don’t like.)  This beer is just as light as Peroni so it is good at washing down rich meals like the one we cooked.  Luckily, Moretti has more flavor, bite, and crispness than Peroni does.

Vodka Sauce:

Ingredients:

1/4 cup good olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, diced
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1-1/4 cups vodka
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons fresh Basil
1/2 cup heavy cream (to taste and personal preference)
Grated Parmesan cheese
One pound of your choice of pasta.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  then heat the olive oil in a large oven proof saute pan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and dried oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Add the vodka and continue cooking until the mixture is reduced by half.

Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes through a sieve and crush them into the pan with your hands. Add 2 teaspoons salt and a pinch of black pepper. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and place it in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

Place the tomato mixture in a blender and puree in batches until the sauce is a smooth consistency. Return to the pan.  Reheat the sauce and add 2 tablespoons fresh basil. Add the cream little by little until the sauce is a creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan and a garnish of fresh basil on each plate.

We served the sauce with breaded chicken and our very own homemade pasta.

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