This is a pasta worth celebrating… you may even end up clinking plates together in cheers (or serving this in a wine glass) because Cheers to Penne Pasta is just that tasty. The succulent, meaty crunch of fried pancetta is sprinkled over a homemade creamy vodka sauce blanketing tender penne pasta. There are savory and sweet elements throughout Cheers to Penne Pasta, but the overarching experience is pure happiness!

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  • 1 (16-ounce) box penne
  • 4 slices pancetta or thick-cut bacon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned, plus more, to taste, for garnish
  • parmesan cheese, optional, to taste, shaved, for garnish
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Step 1 -In a large pot of salted, boiling water, add the pasta and cook it to al dente, according to the package directions.

Step 2 -Drain the pasta and set it aside.

Step 3 -In a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add the pancetta and cook until crisp, about 6-10 minutes.

Step 4 -Transfer the pancetta to paper towels to drain.

Step 5 -Wipe the skillet clean.

Step 6 -In the same skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter.

Step 7 -Add the olive oil, the shallots, the garlic, and the crushed red pepper to the melted butter and cook, while stirring, until the shallots are tender, about 3-4 minutes.

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Step 8 -Add the vodka to the skillet and bring the mixture to a boil, while stirring occasionally.

Step 9 -Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

Step 10 -Add the chicken stock, the fire-roasted tomatoes and their juices, the tomato sauce, the salt, and the pepper and simmer until the flavors have melded together and everything is heated through, about 15 minutes.

Step 11 -Reduce the heat to low.

Step 12 -Add the heavy cream, 2 tablespoons of the basil, and the pancetta, crumbling the pancetta into the sauce and stirring to combine.

Step 13 -Cook until heated through, but without boiling the sauce, about 2 minutes.

Step 14 -In serving bowls, evenly add the pasta and top it with the sauce.

Step 15 -Serve garnished with the extra basil and the parmesan shavings.

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