Vodka Chicken Penne

  • Yield: 4 servings


For the chicken:
3tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
3tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1/2cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
1/2cup Asiago cheese, grated
1-- egg, lightly beaten
1/2teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
4-- boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves
8slices pancetta
2teaspoons olive oil
For the pasta:
2tablespoons olive oil
3ounces pancetta, chopped
1/3cup shallots, minced
2-- garlic cloves, minced
1/4teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2cup vodka
1cup tomato sauce
1/2cup heavy cream
16ounces penne rigate
1/3cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
1/3cup Asiago cheese, grated
2tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped


To make the chicken, preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl combine basil, parsley, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Asiago cheese, egg, and black pepper. Mix thoroughly. Rinse chicken breasts and dry with paper towel. Make a lengthwise incision into each breast, without cutting it completely in half. Open each breast like a book. Spoon equal amounts of cheese mixture onto each chicken breast. Spread evenly over the chicken breasts. Fold each chicken breast in half so that both cheese-coated surfaces come together. Then fold once more from top to bottom. Wrap each folded chicken breast in 2 slices of pancetta. Tie each chicken breast with kitchen twine to secure. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over a medium-high heat. Sear pancetta-wrapped chicken breasts on all sides until browned. Transfer chicken to a baking pan, then bake for 20-25 minutes until juices run clear, or until the internal temperature registers 160 degrees. Rest for several minutes before slicing.

To make the pasta, heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed large skillet over a medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until just cooked, but not yet crisp. Add shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes to the pancetta and cook for about another 5 minutes, until pancetta crisps. Add vodka and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes. Add tomato sauce and stir to blend flavors. Slowly add heavy cream and gently mix into sauce. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add penne and cook until al dente. Drain. Add penne to the sauce and mix to coat the pasta evenly. In a small bowl, toss together the Parmigiano Reggiano and Asiago cheeses. Stir basil and half of the cheese mixture into the penne.

To assemble, remove kitchen twine and slice chicken breasts into 1/2 inch slices. Transfer pasta to a large platter. Arrange chicken breast slices on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and parsley. Serves 4.