Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pasta pasta pasta...yum!

Happy 29th birthday to John Lawlor Bosch!!

The other night, I was craving some serious penne alla vodka, so Jim made a pit-stop at the grocery store to grab a few necessities. He picked up heavy cream and some turkey sausage. I had the penne pasta, vodka, marina sauce and some seasonings. I took a few pics of the process....here's how it went down:

As I mentioned in my "Olive oil, Garlic and Wine" page tab, this is my typical start to my Italian dishes. This time, however, I used a little different order. To start, I tossed in some EVOO, garlic and some onions to the pan. I let those sit for a few minutes while I started boiling some water for the penne. I went with some mezze penne.


 
Instead of my usual "wine" ingredient next to get the sauce working, I remained in the booze category by choosing a Russian vodka. I always cook with whatever booze item I would actually drink. For example, don't cook with a plastic bottle of Gordon's vodka if you can't stomach it with soda water and a lime. Same goes for wine.  Don't use the stuff that'll give you that ripping headache in the morning. I recommend using items you actually enjoying consuming. :)
 

I then started working on my ground turkey. I typically toss it in a bowl and separate it with a fork.  I like when it's really broken down in small pieces. I then seasoned the turkey with some garlic salt, a little basil, an EVOO drizzle, and even a few breadcrumbs.

 
I added the pasta to the boiling water and cooked it for about 15 minutes. I, unlike my dad, like the pasta 'al dente'. According to my training days at Vinny's, al dente means 'to the tooth' (direct translation), so that means it's a little tougher. Ideally, when you have leftovers, your pasta can then absorb all the yummy sauce and soften up a bit. 
 
I also added the turkey sausage to the pan and let it brown with the onions. After it was predominantly browned, I added a few tablespoons of vodka on very high heat so the alcohol burned off. Big photo cred to Jimbo who was changing our kitchen light fixtures while I was cooking dinner!
 
 
After the booze burned off, everything was really smelling delicious. I added some simple marina sauce from a jar....and let it simmer for no more than 2 min or so. Here is where I finally added some wine in the recipe. Jim's Grandma, Mary always suggests 'rinsing' out the sauce jar with some red wine rather than water for flavor. So that's exactly what I did. I then poured in about a cup of heavy cream to the pan and stirred it thoroughly. I added some sea salt and fresh ground black pepper and turned off the heat.
  

The turkey sausage vodka sauce is now complete!  YUM.

 
I strained the mezze penne and added some to three different bowls. I then poured the vodka sauce over the pasta. I love to have several bowls for leftovers during the week, rather than always digging into the same bowl night after night. I find that kind of gross.
 
 
A few garnishes that compliment this dish are some shavings of asiago cheese and fresh basil. Asiago cheese is an Italian cow's milk cheese that can have different textures, according to its aging, I recommend the aged asiago (Asiago d'allevo) because of the crumbly texture and the flavor is reminiscent of Parmesan. The aged cheese is also delicious in salads, soups, and other sauces. If you don't have Asiago, then go ahead and use Parmesan.
 
Oh, I also added the rest of the sauce to the original jar for later use. Don't forget about it though, because there is meat in the jar. It won't last very long.

 
This is one of my all-time favorite dishes. It was actually the first entree choice when I first visited Vinny's before I worked there. They used MUCH more fennel then me, but it was still delish.
 
Enjoy!! :)
Shaz