Grilled Chicken Penne alla Vodka

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Grilled Chicken alla Vodka

This recipe was inspired by the Oscar Nominee “Lady Bird”.  We were looking for a creative idea for our annual Oscar party, and to no surprise of anyone, you couldn’t find a recipe called “pink chicken.” However, knowing the deliciousness of penne alla vodka sauce, plus the ease of chicken tenders, this recipe came to light.

1 lb chicken tenders, grilled
Kosher salt
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves
4 oz. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 4.5-oz. tube double-concentrated tomato paste
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 oz. vodka
¾ cup half-and-half
1 lb. rigatoni
Basil leaves, thinly sliced (for serving)

Fill a stock pot or other large pot three-quarters full with water and heat over high.
Toss in a handful of salt and bring to a boil while you do your other prep.
Peel and finely chop 1 onion.
Firmly smash 4 garlic cloves with the flat side of a chef’s knife and remove peel
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a Dutch oven over medium (position it next to pot of water).
Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, just until onion is starting to brown around the edges, 5–7 minutes.
Add entire 4.5-oz. tube tomato paste and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes and stir until paste evenly coats onion. Continue to cook, stirring often, until paste is deep red and starting to brown on bottom of pot, 5–7 minutes.
Add 2 oz. vodka to deglaze pan and stir to incorporate, scraping bottom of pot. Reduce heat to low.
Using a heatproof glass measuring cup, scoop about ¼ cup boiling water from pot, then add ¾ cup half-and-half to measuring cup (this brings up the temperature of the half-and-half so it won’t break when you add it to the pot).
Slowly add warmed half-and-half to Dutch oven, stirring constantly, until a smooth sauce forms. Remove from heat.
Add 1 lb. rigatoni to pot of boiling salted water and cook according to package instructions until al dente. About 1 minute before the timer goes off, use heatproof measuring cup to scoop up about 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Heat Dutch oven over low.
Add ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to Dutch oven and stir to incorporate, then gradually add half of Parmesan, stirring constantly to melt cheese. Season with salt and add a splash more pasta cooking liquid to thin sauce, if needed.

Serve Chicken (and pasta) topped with vodka sauce.  

Top with remaining cheese and fresh basil leaves.

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