Saturday, January 9, 2010
Ravioli with Smoked Salmon and Vodka Cream Sauce - Pink Saturday
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I met for a last lunch with Mrs. S. before Bob and I made the big move from Chicago to the East Coast. It was a small gesture to thank her for all she had done for me through the years. We met in an Italian restaurant and spent a loud and lovely afternoon laughing and retracing the path through the field of memories we shared. Within the year her great heart would seize and surrender, a passing that was quick and painless for her but left those who loved her reeling. On that day, however, we spoke of things silly and serious. Among the silly, were her thoughts on my choice of pasta. She insisted it was not Italian. Turns out she was right. I was having a prototype of what would become penne with vodka sauce and part of the nuova cucina that raged across the United States in the 1980's. Vodka is not native to Italy and it wasn't distributed there until the latter portion of the 1970's. It's thought that vodka sauce for pasta was probably developed to attract people to the beverage. We know that vodka sauce was invented at Dante, a restaurant in Bologna, Italy, but Joanna's Restaurant, in New York City, is credited with beginning the fad for vodka sauce in the United States.
Several years ago, I developed a recipe for a competition that used a vodka cream sauce. A few of you may have seen it on the Better Recipes website. It won no prizes, but it is one of the best recipes I've developed. I'm proud of it on several levels. While expensive to make, it is very easy to do and, with all due modesty, I'll tell you it's absolutely delicious and perfect for family or guests. Mrs. S. would be proud to see that all those hours she spent with me weren't wasted. Here's the recipe.
Ravioli with Smoked Salmon and Vodka Cream Sauce...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup vodka
1-1/4 cups whipping cream
4 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut into strips about 1/4-inch wide x 2-inches long
1 pound fresh or frozen cheese-filled ravioli
Salt and pepper to taste
Minced Italian parsley for garnish
1) Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet, large enough to hold ravioli and sauce. Add red pepper flakes and saute for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Remove pan from heat and carefully add vodka. When pan has stopped sizzling return it to a burner set on medium-high heat and cook until vodka has nearly evaporated. Add cream and bring to a boil over high heat. Add salmon, reduce heat to very low and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the salmon to steep and infuse the cream. Salt and pepper to taste.
2) Meanwhile, bring a 6-quart pot of water to a boil. Salt water, add ravioli and cook, per package instructions, until just until tender. Drain. Add ravioli to salmon-cream mixture and toss gently to coat. Evenly divide ravioli among 4 shallow pasta bowls; spoon any additional sauce evenly over pasta. Garnish with minced parsley and serve. Yield: 4 servings.
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Pink Saturday, sponsored by Beverly at How Sweet the Sound