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Thread: Vodka sauce question

  1. #1
    Darren Guest

    Default Vodka sauce question

    Greetings all,
    I have a question regarding something I see alot where I live, Long
    Island, NY.
    Most Italian restaurants have a pasta dish served with "Vodka Sauce",
    such as penne a la Vodka, etc.
    I have also noticed many bottled and jarred versions of "Vodka Sauce"
    in the supermakets.
    I have never tasted it, but I was wondering why Vodka is used in the
    sauce?
    Vodka doesn't (or shouldn't) have any real taste of it's own, and the
    alcohol would have presumably been cooked off.
    What then, does adding Vodka contribute to the sauce?

    Darren


  2. #2
    Victor Sack Guest

    Default Re: Vodka sauce question

    Darren <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Most Italian restaurants have a pasta dish served with "Vodka Sauce",
    > such as penne a la Vodka, etc.
    > I have also noticed many bottled and jarred versions of "Vodka Sauce"
    > in the supermakets.
    > I have never tasted it, but I was wondering why Vodka is used in the
    > sauce?
    > Vodka doesn't (or shouldn't) have any real taste of it's own, and the
    > alcohol would have presumably been cooked off.
    > What then, does adding Vodka contribute to the sauce?


    Yours is not exactly a frequently asked question, but it's been asked
    more than a couple of times over the years. As posted before:

    Here's what Arthur Schwartz writes at
    <http://www.thefoodmaven.com/radiorecipes/penne.html>.

    <quote>
    This is not a traditional Italian recipe. I know because I was there --
    more or less -- at its invention. It was the early 1970s and vodka was
    a relatively new spirit to Italians. To promote the consumption of
    vodka in Italy, vodka distillers provided restaurants with gizmos that
    kept both the vodka and vodka glasses chilled and they held recipe
    contests among Italian chefs. This dish was the rage in
    fashion-conscious Italian circles in the mid '70s. I never see it
    anymore in Italy. But Americans are entranced by the idea, even though
    it is nothing more than a tomato cream sauce with hot pepper and a good
    dose of vodka, which, to be frank, is hardly detectable in the finished
    dish.

    To be totally historically correct, I should add that the hot pepper is
    a late addition. The original recipe was made with pepper-flavored
    vodka.
    </quote>

    Victor

  3. #3
    [email protected] Guest

    Default Re: Vodka sauce question

    On May 18, 2:12*pm, Darren <darrenli...@yahoo.com> wrote:
    > Greetings all,
    > I have a question regarding something I see alot where I live, Long
    > Island, NY.
    > Most Italian restaurants have a pasta dish served with "Vodka Sauce",
    > such as penne a la Vodka, etc.
    > I have also noticed many bottled and jarred versions of "Vodka Sauce"
    > in the supermakets.
    > I have never tasted it, but I was wondering why Vodka is used in the
    > sauce?
    > Vodka doesn't (or shouldn't) have any real taste of it's own, and the
    > alcohol would have *presumably been cooked off.
    > What then, does adding Vodka contribute to the sauce?
    >

    The theory I've read is that while most flavor agents are water
    soluble there are others that are alcohol soluble and they are brought
    out by the vodka. A food writer in the Washington Post added this:

    "When an alcohol-containing tomato sauce is simmered, the alcohol
    can react with the tomato's acids to produce compounds called esters,
    which add fruity flavor notes. Some of the alcohol may also be
    oxidized to form traces of aldehydes, which have potent flavors as
    well. Thus, adding the vodka before the sauce is simmered can well
    develop flavors beyond the (negligible) flavor of the vodka itself. In
    many recipes, however, the vodka is added near the end of cooking, in
    which case I still maintain that its contribution to flavor would be
    nil. Long heating is what makes these chemical reactions happen."

    It's easy to show that something happens, whatever the theory. Divide
    a pot of simmering tomato sauce in two, add flavorless vodka to one
    half, simmer some more, taste test. I did this some twenty years ago
    and thought I could tell the difference. -aem


  4. #4
    Stan Horwitz Guest

    Default Re: Vodka sauce question

    In article
    <[email protected]>,
    Darren <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Greetings all,
    > I have a question regarding something I see alot where I live, Long
    > Island, NY.
    > Most Italian restaurants have a pasta dish served with "Vodka Sauce",
    > such as penne a la Vodka, etc.
    > I have also noticed many bottled and jarred versions of "Vodka Sauce"
    > in the supermakets.
    > I have never tasted it, but I was wondering why Vodka is used in the
    > sauce?
    > Vodka doesn't (or shouldn't) have any real taste of it's own, and the
    > alcohol would have presumably been cooked off.
    > What then, does adding Vodka contribute to the sauce?
    >
    > Darren


    Vodka sauce is popular here in the Philadelphia area too. Why not try
    some and see for yourself? The next time you visit your favorite Italian
    restaurant, ask for a sample of pasta with regular tomato sauce and a
    sample of pasta with vodka sauce. Tell the waiter you want to see if you
    can taste a difference, then you will know. If the restaurant isn't
    willing to offer samples, just order a small side dish of each. I
    honestly just order marinara sauce when I order pasta out or I use
    marinara sauce when I make pasta at home, so I don't remember what vodka
    sauce tastes like.

  5. #5
    Sqwertz Guest

    Default Re: Vodka sauce question

    Darren wrote:

    > What then, does adding Vodka contribute to the sauce?


    A catchy name, and that's about it.

    -sw

  6. #6
    George Guest

    Default Re: Vodka sauce question

    Darren wrote:
    > Greetings all,
    > I have a question regarding something I see alot where I live, Long
    > Island, NY.
    > Most Italian restaurants have a pasta dish served with "Vodka Sauce",
    > such as penne a la Vodka, etc.
    > I have also noticed many bottled and jarred versions of "Vodka Sauce"
    > in the supermakets.
    > I have never tasted it, but I was wondering why Vodka is used in the
    > sauce?
    > Vodka doesn't (or shouldn't) have any real taste of it's own, and the
    > alcohol would have presumably been cooked off.
    > What then, does adding Vodka contribute to the sauce?
    >
    > Darren
    >

    Vodka wouldn't be used to add taste but for the solvent properties of
    the alcohol.

  7. #7
    blake murphy Guest

    Default Re: Vodka sauce question

    On Mon, 18 May 2009 15:21:21 -0700 (PDT), [email protected] wrote:

    > On May 18, 2:12Â*pm, Darren <darrenli...@yahoo.com> wrote:
    >> Greetings all,
    >> I have a question regarding something I see alot where I live, Long
    >> Island, NY.
    >> Most Italian restaurants have a pasta dish served with "Vodka Sauce",
    >> such as penne a la Vodka, etc.
    >> I have also noticed many bottled and jarred versions of "Vodka Sauce"
    >> in the supermakets.
    >> I have never tasted it, but I was wondering why Vodka is used in the
    >> sauce?
    >> Vodka doesn't (or shouldn't) have any real taste of it's own, and the
    >> alcohol would have Â*presumably been cooked off.
    >> What then, does adding Vodka contribute to the sauce?
    >>

    > The theory I've read is that while most flavor agents are water
    > soluble there are others that are alcohol soluble and they are brought
    > out by the vodka. A food writer in the Washington Post added this:
    >
    > "When an alcohol-containing tomato sauce is simmered, the alcohol
    > can react with the tomato's acids to produce compounds called esters,
    > which add fruity flavor notes. Some of the alcohol may also be
    > oxidized to form traces of aldehydes, which have potent flavors as
    > well. Thus, adding the vodka before the sauce is simmered can well
    > develop flavors beyond the (negligible) flavor of the vodka itself. In
    > many recipes, however, the vodka is added near the end of cooking, in
    > which case I still maintain that its contribution to flavor would be
    > nil. Long heating is what makes these chemical reactions happen."
    >
    > It's easy to show that something happens, whatever the theory. Divide
    > a pot of simmering tomato sauce in two, add flavorless vodka to one
    > half, simmer some more, taste test. I did this some twenty years ago
    > and thought I could tell the difference. -aem


    i was wondering why i only seem to have seen it used in italian cooking and
    this turned up when googling [cooking with vodka]:

    There are numerous ways vodka affects the cooking process.

    In some recipes, vodka is used to achieve a chemical reaction in a dish.
    Vodka added to marinades, for example, can help break down tough fibers and
    tenderize meats. Vodka added to cheese and cream sauces lowers the boiling
    point to help prevent curdling. It is also very effectively used to deglaze
    pans during the cooking process in order to dissolve and impart
    alcohol-soluble flavor compounds to foods or sauces. And sometimes vodka
    may be added to provide a last minute burst of flavor, to complete the
    cooking process, or to enhance presentation – as in a flambé.

    for what it's worth, as i don't use vodka in cooking other than as a
    preparation for the cook.

    but the business about drawing out non-water-soluble flavors does make me
    wonder why you don't see it much in other cuisines. (of course, other
    spirits are used, but they also tend to have flavor of their own.)

    your pal,
    blake

  8. #8
    Kswck Guest

    Default Re: Vodka sauce question


    "Darren" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Greetings all,
    > I have a question regarding something I see alot where I live, Long
    > Island, NY.
    > Most Italian restaurants have a pasta dish served with "Vodka Sauce",
    > such as penne a la Vodka, etc.
    > I have also noticed many bottled and jarred versions of "Vodka Sauce"
    > in the supermakets.
    > I have never tasted it, but I was wondering why Vodka is used in the
    > sauce?
    > Vodka doesn't (or shouldn't) have any real taste of it's own, and the
    > alcohol would have presumably been cooked off.
    > What then, does adding Vodka contribute to the sauce?
    >
    > Darren
    >


    I think the vodka takes the bitter taste out of tomatoes and turns it sweet.
    Has something to do with the acid in the tomato.



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