February Foodie Challenge – Cooking with Alcohol

Food

Today’s February Foodie topic is Cooking with Alcohol.

Last night, as my husband and I hunkered down for yet another snow storm, we decided to break out a new recipe I’d been wanting to try: Vodka Cream Sauce. I’ve had it in restaurants and simply adore it. Now it was my turn to give it a go. We had already stocked up on the vodka and I had some heavy cream left over from a previous recipe.

cream sauce2

Side note: Don’t you hate when you have to use heavy cream? The recipe never uses much of the pint and then you’re stuck with the rest. Well this recipe calls for a whole pint and I had only used about 1/4 cup previously so I was all set!

I started by using an “Easy Vodka Sauce” recipe I found on Pinterest (find it here or here). A lot of them are more complicated, but I found this one to have simple ingredients and easy instructions. I did make some tweaks to it along the way, which I’ll point out for you.

Now this was the first time I’ve ever cooked with alcohol. I didn’t know what to expect really. You always see those guys on TV adding liquor to stuff and big flames shoot up and “burn off” the alcohol. That doesn’t happen here. You add in the vodka like you would water. In fact, it looks and smells like water. So much that I thought I had been fooled in the liquor store and I took a swig to be sure. Yikes! Strong stuff! It was not water. But in the finished product I don’t even taste it at all – I think it just gives the dish a certain kick. By all means if you cannot do liquor then don’t make this dish! Cooking with alcohol can be fun, but is not required!

So I started out cooking up my onions in butter. I didn’t add as much butter as it said mainly because we eat healthier so I used about 1/2 a stick and some olive oil. Once the onions were really soft and had even begun to brown a little, I added the vodka. It simmered along quite nicely. The recipe says to simmer that 10 minutes, but I think I had my temp up too high and it didn’t take that long to reduce down. So I reduced my temp gauge to a medium-low heat as seen here.

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Next I added my tomatoes. Now I had some fresh frozen tomatoes from last season in my freezer so I used those. You can certainly use some from a can – just use good quality ones. I measured mine out because I didn’t know how much I had in my bag and then I tried to drain some water from them too. I think using the fresh worked out well.

cream saucetoms

The recipe says to let that reduce down for another 30 minutes, so I set my timer and the hubby and I did some dishes, and cooked up the fettuccine we’ll serve with this, while we waited. I added some Italian seasoning to this mix as well and salt and pepper for some added flavor – just use your discretion with that. I didn’t add much S&P, but I did add more Italian seasoning because we like that. I think you could add red pepper flakes too for more kick. One note on the recipe said to use some sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes so I also added a small pinch of sugar at this time.

Keeping my temp pretty low, it still cooked faster than the 30 minutes allotted. You’ll have to gauge how your stove works. I just kept stirring it until I thought it was getting a bit too thick. It was about 20 minutes on my stove.

Then I added the cream. Now, up until this point, the stuff had started to smell pretty darn good, but when I added that cream I knew I had a winner. As it cooked down (about 20 minutes for me) it just got better and better.

 sauce with cream1sauce with cream

I always keep cooked, frozen shrimp in my freezer as well – it’s so easy to thaw out and add to a lot of dishes. I got those out and thawed them while things cooked. I added them at the end just to warm them up a bit. I think it’d be better with fresh shrimp, but that’s hard to get here and pretty expensive so this was a good solution for now.

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My hubby and I took one spoonful each when it was done and determined we couldn’t wait until the next night’s dinner time. We packed up the fettuccine in one container and this cream sauce in another, put them in the fridge and called it a night. I mostly like to make things ahead and have the “leftovers” the next day.  I’m glad I did on this one too because we worked on it from about 8:30 pm to 10 pm. If I had to wait on dinner that long I would have probably starved to death! But now, tonight, we just have to heat it up and it’s ready to go. I can’t wait!

creamsauce finished

What dishes to you make that include alcohol? Share!

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