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Mario Batali's Penne alla Vodka


This classic pasta sauce is so delicious because its flavor base begins with bacon, garlic, and tomato paste, and finishes with vodka, nutmeg, cream, and Parmesan.

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Rate this recipe 4.1/5 (92 Votes)


  • 6 slices bacon
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 pound penne
  • 1 piece Parmigiano Reggiano, for grating


Servings 6
Cooking time 30mins
Adapted from


Step 1

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook penne 1 minute short of the package instructions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water for sauce.

In a large sauté pan, cook bacon over medium heat to render out fat. Cook for about 10 minutes until cooked but not too crispy. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook until garlic is fragrant and tomato paste darkens.

Stir in the vodka and cook for a few minutes to meld the flavors. Add cream and season with nutmeg and salt to taste. If sauce is too thick, add reserved pasta water bit by bit until desired thickness is reached (you may not need the whole cup). Add cooked penne and toss to coat.

Serve with a generous sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano.

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