PENNE ALLA VODKA (for four)
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2/3 cup vodka
¾ cup Mario’s marinara, pureed in a blender or food processor, or canned tomato puree
1 cup heavy cream
¼ pound cooked ham, finely chopped
2 drops Tabasco, or to taste
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound penne
¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. Melt the butter in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in vodka, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 4 minutes. Add tomato puree and cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in ham, Tabasco, salt and pepper. Keep sauce warm over very low heat.
2. Cook pasta in a 6 to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt per every 4 quarts water) until al dente (about 10 minutes). Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta.
3. Add pasta to sauce and toss with sauce and cheese, adding some of the reserved cooking water if pasta seems dry.
from The Gourmet Cookbook