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Chef John’s Penne with Vodka Sauce

In this video, you’ll see how to make a creamy, vodka-spiked red sauce for pasta. It’s a classic recipe with one exception—Chef John uses bacon here instead of the more traditional pancetta. The smoky bacon adds richness to the sauce, which lets Chef John pull back a touch on the amount of cream in the dish. Of course, you can go with pancetta instead of bacon or leave it out entirely and make a vegetarian sauce. Anything goes! The vodka will coax out additional flavors from the rich tomato sauce—and the alcohol will cook off, so you won’t taste any “heat” from the booze. Watch the video, then get the recipe for Chef John's Penne with Vodka Sauce. Serve this rich, creamy sauce over penne pasta with some grated Parmesan cheese.

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