HIHI how was your Christmas, or holiday, or break, or week, or weekend?
We had….all of those things. This was the first year that I can remember having all of our sisters in town from both of our families. We had family outing after family outing, happy hour(s), dinners out, gift exchanges, and a great deal of time spent discussing WHY Will insists on spitting up so much, and how on earth he’s gaining any weight. It’s a mystery, and a very gross one. I’ve never done so much laundry in my life.
Jay is mercifully, blissfully off the rest of this week, and I’m caught between wanting to 1. organize everything and let him hang out with the kids, 2. do absolutely nothing, and 3. send them all away so I can actually catch up on work for once in my life. I’m THINKING that there has to be a balance between those three things, but likely I’ll spend a ton of time thinking about it and not a ton of time accomplishing the things I really need to be doing.
What I will be doing, though, is cooking. I love cooking on holiday weeks, two or three meals per day and some snacks, trashing the kitchen, listening to music, all of it. This vodka sauce is one of my favorite weekend/holiday meals, and it’s perfect for this time of year – maybe even for New Year’s Eve if you’re staying in! It takes a bit of time because the sauce gets roasted in the oven, but the steps are simple and the results are SO worth it. We have spicy sausage, tangy vodka and tomatoes. Extra garlic, absolutely. After the sauce roasts we pink it up with heavy cream and toss it with pasta or zoodles if you’re starting your New Year’s resolutions early! Honestly the sauce is so good I could eat it plain.
Start by gathering up the yummy ingredients. Sausage – I do spicy but feel free to use mild, either bought in bulk or with casings removed. Onion, garlic, crushed red pepper, and oregano add flavor. Vodka, tomatoes, and heavy cream make the sauce. I serve this with any short pasta I have in the cabinet and parm on top. Jay douses his with extra crushed red pepper flakes because he doesn’t like to taste his food, but I think the spice from the sausage and red pepper in the sauce is perfect.
Choose a large ovenproof skillet for the sauce with a lid, and preheat it to medium-high. At the same time, preheat the oven to 375F. Add the sausage and brown it in the skillet, breaking it up as you go with a spoon. While the sausage is cooking, chop the onion and mince the garlic.
When the sausage is cooked through and crumbly (8 minutes or so), add the onion, garlic, oregano, and crushed red pepper to the skillet. Stir the veggies and spices into the sausage for 5 minutes to soften the onion.
Add the vodka, and let it reduce by about half. This removes most of the alcohol from the sauce and intensifies the flavor. Next, add the tomatoes, water, salt, and sugar to the skillet. Stir the sauce together (it’ll be thin at this point), cover the pan, and place the whole thing in the oven.
Roast the sauce for an hour at 375F. During this time I prep the pasta by cooking it to al dente, saving some of the cooking water, and measuring the pasta. That way, when the sauce is done I can EAT.
When the sauce has roasted, the liquid will have reduced a good bit and the tomatoes will be dark in color. This is where the magic happens, too: the flavors meld together and are just so savory and comforting after this hour in the oven. Taste the sauce and add a few pinches of salt if needed – it may absorb some of the flavors in the oven. Add the pasta and cream to the sauce, stir to combine everything, and done!
Taste this one more time and add more salt if you’d like, or a few splashes of pasta water if the sauce is overly thick. It should coat the pasta with just a bit leftover in the bottom of the skillet.
Yeah yeah yeah DINNER IS SERVED.
Parm + crushed red + any herbs for sprinkling if you’d like. Garlic bread for dunking obviously because it’s the holidays.
Because of the cream, this is perfect served right away. It’s great heated up too, but really perfect immediately out of the oven. The sweet tomatoes and cream are perfect with the spicy sausage, and heartiness of the sauce from the fatty sausage is just so perfect this time of year.
I want this for NYE, the Super Bowl, and every snow day this year. And then once on that random weekend in spring that gets cold one more time before real warm weather.
Enjoy this! It is so simple but really special and yummy.