Thursday, June 7, 2012

Penne with Skyy Vodka Sauce and Cajun Airline Chicken


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 This past weekend I attended my cousin Anthony's wedding in the great city of New Orleans. I saw hundreds of family members, paraded through the streets of The Big Easy in a second line with an incredible marching brass band...aaand I also jumped out of an airplane with my sister. In celebration of jumping out of a plane and living to tell about it, I give you this Mile High Menu, perfect for feasting with friends - click here for dessert; Death by Chocolate.

There will be plenty of vodka left over for cocktail-making. Put out an additional bottle of bourbon, take away everyone's car keys, and prepare for takeoff.

Penne alla Vodka (featuring Skyy Vodka)
One 35-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes (use the whole can, liquid included!!)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 shallot, minced
salt, to taste
Crushed hot red pepper
1/2 cup Skyy vodka
1/4 -1/2 cup heavy cream
1 lb. penne pasta
freshly cut basil
grated Parmesan

-Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
-If you have a food processor, process the tomatoes just slightly to break up the tomatoes into a rough sauce-like consistency. If you don't have a processor its all the more fun for you..roll up your sleeves and squeeze the tomatoes in your fists to break them up. For the sake of your guests..please wash your hands!
(If you are using dried penne that takes about 10 minutes to cook you can add it to the water now and your sauce will be ready when the pasta is! But if you would rather not risk it, you can finish your sauce and then cook your pasta!)
-Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Smash the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and add them to the hot oil.
- Cook until the garlic is lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
- Add in shallot and cook until translucent.
- Add in your tomatoes, making sure not to splatter yourself.
- Heat till sauce is lightly simmering and season with salt and crushed red pepper. Continue to cook for a few minutes so sauce has time to meld all the flavors.
- Add in the vodka, lower heat to a simmer and cook until the alcohol taste is not abbrasive (a few minutes).
-Right before the pasta is finished cooking scoop out the garlic cloves and add in your cream.
- Add your pasta to the sauce and cook for a few minutes so the pasta can absorb the flavor a little.
- If you have good olive oil, drizzle a little over the top with freshly cut basil and a sprinkle (or a shower, depending on your affinity for cheese and weather-related references) of Parmesan cheese.

Cajun Style Airline Chicken

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Airline-cut chicken simply refers to breast still attached to a portion of the wing. You can make this recipe with any cut of chicken just remember that when chicken is on the bone, it takes longer to cook!

2 lbs. Chicken breasts (skin on)

1/3 cup oil
3 Tablespoons vinegar (your preference, but I recommend champagne, white balsamic or apple cider)1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 Tablespoons Cajun seasoning (You can buy very nice blends of cajun seasoning or you can make your own. Below is a recipe I found that I really like.)

Cajun Seasoning:
3 Tablespoons paprika
2 Tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons garlic powder
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon dried thyme

- Combine all of your ingredients in a large plastic bag, incorporate and add your chicken breasts.
- Let marinate for 1- 3 hours.
- Fire up your grill or you can bake in a 375F oven for 30 minutes if you prefer.
This is a super-simple recipe that allows time for conversation while you cook!


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