Vodka Cream Penne with Lump Crabmeat

Call me a glutton for punishment or a masochist of sorts, but I have to admit that my favorite thing to watch while working out happens to be the Food Network. Call it what you will…torturous, crazy, ironic…that hour serves as a great time for inspiration and ideas on what to make next. Now, I usually catch the tail end of Paula Deen, all of Rachel Ray’s show and a wee bit of Food Challenge, and I have to say that hate on Rachel Ray as much as you want, she’s got some pretty good ideas, that gal…

I caught an episode for a Vodka cream pasta one day and I was intrigued. Not so much by its name, the oh so catchy and filled with promise, “You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta,” but moreso of its components. Vodka, cream, tomatoes, and pasta? Translation: A blush sauce with a kick of vodka? Who wouldn’t be intrigued by that??

Rachel does a really good job with breaking this down into a very simple and easy manner…and to her credit, the recipe delivers on ease of preparation and taste. The vodka isn’t lost here as it is in most other vodka sauce preparations. Most of the alcohol is rendered off, but you still get that whiff of some good ol’ potato distillation that just makes your senses sing! The trick here I believe is to not overly cook the sauce. If you’re using fresh tomatoes, as I did here, throw them into the pan after the shallots, but before the canned tomatoes and give them time to render down before adding the vodka.

I made this for the first time for a group of friends up for the weekend to rave reviews, but I wanted to jazz it up a bit, so I’ve added a can of lump crabmeat here at the end with the addition of the cream. It lends an extra sweetness to the sauce and makes it just a wee bit more decadent and special. You can add any other meat or seafood to this base recipe to give it a twist…just remember if using seafood, to add towards the end and don’t overcook.

Vodka Cream Penne with Lump Crabmeat
Adapted from Rachel Ray


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced*
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)*
Coarse salt and pepper
16 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 can (16oz) lump crabmeat
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn


Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to the pan, 3 turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.

Stir cream and lump crabmeat into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble and is heated through, remove it from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves.

*Note: My pantry, alas was out of shallots so I used white onions here and also added about 3 diced plum tomatoes for some additional texture. I sauteed them with the onions to desired tenderness before adding the vodka.


~ by tastydesu on February 12, 2010.

2 Responses to “Vodka Cream Penne with Lump Crabmeat”

  1. One of my favorite dishes as long as you put in a liter of Vodka, preferably Grey Goose or Belvedere…. Or while you are making it, you can give the recipe a shot, then drink a shot, then give a shot, then drink a shot etc etc etc. Comes out great that way.

  2. I tried this dish last night for a test run because im making it for my grandma for her birthday dinner, and it was amazing! i tried shrimp with it and i defiantly think im going to do crab meat next time!

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