Monday, June 21, 2010

Pasta Shells with Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce and Beef/Pork Meatballs

If you love Italian food like we do and have never had a vodka cream sauce, you don't know what you're missing! This type of sauce is very popular in New York. Our parents grew up in Brooklyn so we frequently visit our relatives up there. A pasta with vodka cream sauce is pretty common on Italian restaurant menus up there, as well as elsewhere. We like to make our sauces from scratch for that extra home-cooked taste that our grandmother spoiled us with growing up. It's not the quickest meal, but it's perfect for a weekend when you have some time. And trust me, it will be so worth it when it's finished!

3 large cans of pureed tomatoes, (not ready-made sauce) (if you prefer chunky, get 1 can of whole or diced tomatoes)
1 1/2 cups of vodka (unflavored)
about 1/2 of a small carton of heavy whipping cream
2 onions (color of your choice)
3 cloves of garlic
spices: parsley, oregano, black pepper, salt, Italian seasoning (rosemary, thyme, etc.), basil
about 1/3 cup of sugar
about 1/2-1 cup of parmesan or romano cheese
red pepper flakes-just 2 or 3 hits (optional)
Italian sausage (mild, medium or hot-optional) (we use Johnsonville 6-packs a lot)

In a large pot that has a lid, line the bottom with some extra virgin olive oil and put on a low temperature (about the 3 setting). Meanwhile, chop up your garlic and onions. Throw them in the pot. Stir. If you're adding sausage, cut your sausage into about 4-inch chunks or in half. Throw them in the pot, stir them in with the onions and garlic, adjust the temperature to medium (about 4 or 5) and cook until brown. Then pour in the tomato puree. Add in all spices and sugar. Be generous with the spices. The more the merrier. Cook for about 1 1/2 hours. Yes, that's right. Give it a taste and add in more of any spice needed. If it's still real bitter, add a little more sugar. Then add in the vodka and cook for 20 more minutes. After that, lower the temperature to low, add in the heavy whipping cream and finish it off with the grated cheese. Perfection. 

2 pounds of ground beef
1 pound of ground pork (ground turkey is another option)
2 eggs
about 1 1/2 cups of cornmeal (or gluten-free breadcrumbs) 
spices: parsley, oregano, basil, black pepper, salt, Italian seasonings
parmesan or romano cheese

To prepare, get a large frying pan with some canola oil covering the bottom heating on a low temperature. (maybe about 3 or 4) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Use your judgment on whether or not to add in more breadcrumbs or seasonings. Roll into balls and place a bunch at a time in the frying pan. (Don't crowd the pan- make sure they are spaced out) Rotate them until all sides are browned and cooked throughout. On a platter with paper towels, let the meatballs cool and de-grease. Place them into the sauce. (optional)

PASTA: We used shells but you could use any shape of gluten-free pasta. Cook per bag instructions.

On your plates or bowls, place some pasta, cover with the sauce and a couple of meatballs. Garnish with some fresh chopped basil and chopped prosciutto for an extra salty bite. (optional)

So yummy!! Yes, a little time consuming, but well worth it! Bring out your inner Italian cook!


Mary said...

This really sounds delicious. While I'm rather new to your blog I must tell you how much I like your recipes and your blog. I always enjoy
my visits here. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

FOODIE4LIFE82 said...

Thank you! :)