I’ve recently started experimenting with adding vodka in the making of a tomato sauce and the result is absolutely incredible! I was impressed with the texture and flavor and with a little more research, I found out a few contributing factors as to why:
- Emulsifier: Vodka is an emulsifier which means it binds oil and water. So when adding it to your sauce, it helps produce a creamy and smooth texture.
- Flavour Enhancer: Vodka also brings out the flavor in tomatoes as well as binding acidic tomato juice with cream and olive oil. It adds richness and enhances the punchiness of the sauce.
There’s no need to be worried about cooking with alcohol as it evaporates after 20-30 seconds at 172° F (78° C). So any sauce or stew that is allowed to simmer or boil is hot enough to evaporate any alcohol meaning you don’t need to worry about getting tipsy unless your sippin’ from the bottle while you’re cooking.
Vodka Tomato Sauce Recipe:
- 1 medium onion – chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ tsp red chili flake
- 1½ tsp and 2 Tbsp oregano (added at different times in this recipe)
- 1 cup vodka
- 2 – 796 ml tins of tomatoes or even better use your home canned
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 cup whipping cream
Sauté the onion and garlic with olive oil in a heavy-bottom oven proof pan (that has a lid) until they are translucent and just starting to brown. Stir in the red chili flakes and 1½ tsp oregano, cooking for one minute. Add vodka and allow it to reduce to half on simmer before adding the tomatoes.
Stir in the salt and pepper, then put the whole pan into a 375° oven covered for 1½ hours. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and purée until smooth. Pour mixture back into pan, heat on stove and add 2 Tbsp oregano and heavy whipping cream. Simmer for half an hour and then toss in your pasta and top with cheese.
I always make this recipe in a big batch (x3 or x4) and I make it ahead as it always tastes better if left to sit in the fridge overnight and reheated. It freezes beautifully so I portion it out and freeze it to use at a later date, adding veggies or meat or reheating and using as a sauce. You can also replace the cream with one cup of cream cheese and use as a base on your pizza crust- YUM!
*Quick note on tomatoes, I use these fantastic ones I get at Scarpone’s Italian Store in Calgary. They are whole so I just squish them with my hands before adding. They have no salt added and no additives, just tomatoes and tomato puree. I just started canning my own tomatoes last year so if you have home canned, that is even better.