My new Cook’s Illustrated arrived in the mail recently and immediately I saw a recipe that I had to try: Penne alla Vodka. Since we were hosting LOST at our house that week, it was the perfect opportunity to try it out on
guinea pigs guests. I’ve had this dish in restaurants before and I remembered it having a creamy tomato sauce with a little bite to it. Perfect.
Research time. Okay, what kind of vodka should I use? The recipe says only to use a high-quality spirit since the cheap stuff gives the dish a really off flavor. Since I don’t know any drunks, I turn to my best friend, Mr. Internet! I wanted to buy something reasonably priced but still good quality. Narrowing it down, I finally decided on a bottle of Ketel One. But where to buy it? Maryland has strong liquor laws so you can’t buy alcohol in grocery stores. Fortunately, Hagerstown is full of liquor stores so I went to one called “The Wooden Keg” and bought it. Awkward!
About the time I got to the grocery store to finish shopping for my dinner, Jen calls me up.
“I think people might have a problem with the Vodka in the dish.”
“It all evaporates, it’s only for flavoring,” I replied.
“I don’t want to offend anyone.”
After I got home, I called everyone who was coming for dinner and using my best telemarketing voice I recited this script:
“Hi (name), tonight for dinner I am cooking a dish called Penne alla Vodka. It uses a small amount of vodka for flavoring in the cooking process. The alcohol evaporates away in this process. Would you have a problem eating this dish?”
No one had a problem. Not even the bible teacher.
It was delicious.