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Whole Wheat Gemelli A La Vodka with Pork Jowl

Plate of gemelli pasta with vodka sauce.

I remembered that we still had some pork jowl bacon in the fridge, so I asked Dino if he could do a spin on his penne a la vodka, but with pork jowl instead of bacon or pancetta. We didn’t have any penne, either, but we did have some whole wheat gemelli. It turned out so good! The pork jowl made it nice and smoky, the onions were sweet, and the sauce is just luscious. We still had some of the Five-Chile Vodka that I made a few years back, so he used that in the sauce. Absolut has a pepper vodka, or you can use regular vodka if you have that on hand. If you use pancetta, you might need to add a little oil to the pan, since it doesn’t have as much fat as bacon. This stuff is super easy, and it rocks!

Fork holding gemelli pasta with vodka sauce and basil.

Whole Wheat Gemelli A La Vodka with Pork Jowl
Dino Covelli

4 strips of pork jowl bacon (regular bacon or pancetta will work, too)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 lb pasta (penne, gemelli, or rotini work well)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup homemade or store bought pepper infused vodka (or regular vodka)
1 can tomato paste (about 6 oz)
salt, pepper and basil (fresh or dried) to taste

Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, heat a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Cut bacon into lardons and cook until crispy. Add garlic and onion and sauté until translucent. Lower the heat to medium low. Add heavy cream, vodka and tomato paste and stir until it turns into a pink sauce. Salt and pepper to taste (I season liberally) and add basil.

Once water comes to a boil, drop in the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, and add to sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Big Flavors Rating: 5 Stars

Ashley Covelli is a food photographer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor based in Ossining, New York. She loves helping people become enthusiastic and adventurous in the kitchen so that they can build skills and confidence to cook for themselves and their loved ones. She can almost always be found with at least 3 different beverages within arm's reach.

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