Chicken & Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce



By Cat, Nov 2007 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

There are many choices for pasta, not only shapes (spaghetti, bow ties, penne, etc.), but also types of grain used to make the pasta.  The desired shape is determined by the type of sauce you intend to use.  Chunky and/or creamy sauces work well with the hollow tube pastas such as penne.

Penne are hollow tubes of pasta cut on a diagonal to make a quill-like point (hence the name of ‘penne‘ for pen).  If you cannot find penne, use ziti or mostacioli, which are very similar.  In a pinch you could use macaroni, but American macaroni is not as good.

See Pasta (About) for more information about pasta, gluten-free pasta, and its different shapes.

Most chicken & pasta recipes use cut up or shredded breast meat (white), but thigh meat is also delicious.  If using breast meat, I highly recommend brining it before cooking, as it improves the flavor and helps this otherwise dry meat to retain moisture.  You can also brine the thighs, and while they are naturally more moist than breasts, they will still improve in flavor by brining.

Chicken & Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce

This recipe is adapted from a package of H-brand Pearl Onions. The creamy sauce is pink because of the tomatoes.

You can use Penne made from Semolina flour, whole wheat Durum flour, or Sprouted Grains. Serves 2.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Baked Chicken Pieces, using 2 brined breast halves or mix of breast and thigh meat.  Remove meat from the bones for this pasta dish; reserve bones for a batch of chicken stock; toss skins.
  • 3 oz dry pearl onions or frozen pearl onions, thawed
  • ½ cup cream
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • 8 oz canned chopped tomatoes (I prefer Muir Glen brand when I can’t find good fresh tomatoes)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 12 oz penne
  • Unrefined sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
  • Equipment
  • cast iron skillet
  • 3 quart saucepan
  • pasta serving bowl


  1. Prepare baked chicken meat; set aside.
  2. Peel papery outer skins from dry pearl onions; cut each in half.
  3. Warm olive oil in cast iron skillet; add halved onions and saute over low heat until translucent (if using thawed frozen onion, heat just to warm them).
  4. Add tomatoes, and cook to reduce tomato liquid, about 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the penne per instructions on the package.  Drain.
  6. Add chicken meat to the tomato-onion sauce; season with salt and pepper and heat just to warm the chicken.
  7. Add vodka and stir, then add cream.  Let simmer for about 5 minutes.
  8. Pour sauce over penne in serving bowl and toss.

Assembly or Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with grated hard cheese, such as parmesan or romano.

About Cat

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