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Vodka sauce thickener ?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I made a quick vodka cream sauce tonight but want it thicker. I used garlic, shallots, 28oz crushed tomatoes, 1 cup roughly of vodka , 1tbs olive oil,1tbs butter, 1 cup chicken stock and 1/2 cup cream. I sauted the garlic and shallots in the butter and oil. Added vodka and cooked till reduced in half. Added tomatoes,chicken stock and cooked to a slow boil. Added the cream and cooked to a simmer. What do you add to it or change to make it thicker.

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post #2 of 22

I usually like to thicken by reduction or by pureeing some of the sauce and then adding it back in.

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post #3 of 22
When I've made it I usually reduce it and add a little parmesan to finish. reducing again after adding the chx stk would probably help too.
post #4 of 22
seems for a quickie sauce, you have a lot of liquid that needs to get reduced.... ways to get what you are looking for would be to reduce the tomatoes, shallots,garlic and seasonings with the chix stock first(med to med high heat),then add the vodka, reduce further,then the cream and reduce again. all done quickly......or you can just add some puréed tomatoes(not paste). it does seem to me that a cup of vodka is a lot unless you're sharing it with the pot....you could very easily cut that in half

joey
Edited by durangojo - 4/18/13 at 8:02am

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post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 

So it looks like almost all my dishes I have made lately need more time to cook and I just need to be more patient. I have some left over that was very runny so I will put it back in the pan and try reducing down with some more cooking and see what happens. 

 

DO chef's at restaurants ever give out there recipe for a dish if you ask for it? I have a little place near me that makes this dish with chicken and it is so good. 

 

 

 

P.S. I was enjoying this with the wife last night and she looks to me and said since we took a class about pasta she can really tell the difference from dried boxed pasta vs the fresh home made items.

 

Guess its time to look into some new toys for making pasta.
 

post #6 of 22
scribble, I hope that I wasn't too confusing...after retreading my post I realized that I may not have answered you correctly. My reply was based on your making a 'quickie' sauce because of time constraints, not on impatience, which you can do successfully, but you need to be attentive. Personally I don't make 'quickie, tomato sauces,(unless it's fresh grapes tomatoes), as I think that tomatoes benefit the most from long slow cooking.......either stove top or roasting. they mellow so righteously....as an aside, you could roast the tomatoes with the shallots, seasonings and evoo, then process the whole shebang. anyway. Hope this helps and doesn't add more confusion.
as to chefs sharing recipes.....some do, some don't....but it's always worth asking...

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #7 of 22

Of course it needs thickening, it needs pasta!  Pasta is startchy and can thicken your sauce.  But to take it a further step nix the chicken stock and add pasta water instead, the water has some starch in it that will help thicken your sauce.

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post #8 of 22

You can't actually "reduce" vodka.  Cooking the raw, alcohol taste out of it takes a couple of minutes of simmering, further cooking will neither give you better body nor a more concentrated taste.  It is simply a waste of time and vodka. 

 

Your sauce is watery for two reasons.  The first is because it had too much liquid from the get go.   The chicken stock didn't need to be reduced or replaced so much as it needed to be omitted (or at least drastically reduced).  The second is because -- like so many people -- you don't know how to prepare and serve pasta with a tomato-based sauce (most other sauces as well).    

 

It probably goes against every grain in your body -- not to mention everything you know about how to serve pasta -- but it's not a great idea to put a bunch of pasta in a bowl and cover it with red sauce.  It doesn't matter how pretty it looks.  Too much sauce.  Too much, unincorporated sauce. 

 

Go ahead and cook your vodka sauce, using reduction to get the thickness and consistency you want.  Turn off the heat beneath it, and leave it on the stove while you cook the pasta.

 

When the pasta is two minutes away from being cooked, put some sauce in a large skillet, and put it on medium-high to high heat.  You want it not-quite boiling.  When the pasta is barely al dente, not quite as cooked as you'd like it, use a ladle to add a little pasta water (say 10 - 20% of the total liquid volume) to the sauce, and bring up the flame. 

 

When the sauce comes to the boil, drain the pasta quickly, and immediately transfer the pasta to the sauce in the pan.  DO NOT make a big production out of draining the pasta.  Fast is more important than thorough.  In fact, wet is what you want.     

 

Toss until the pasta in the boiling sauce, until it has absorbed as much sauce as it can absorb (a minute, no more than two) and is completely coated.  Add more sauce if needed.  You may also add some grated cheese at this stage if you like.  Taste for seasoning and adjust. 

 

Use tongs to remove the pasta into a heated platter or into individual pasta bowls or plates.  Using tongs allows excess sauce to stay in the pan.  That's a good thing, because -- believe it or not -- the pasta will taste MUCH better, as well as serve and eat more neatly when it is not swimming in excess sauce. 

 

If it really makes you nuts, use a spoon to finish the plating with just enough extra sauce so that it's visible.  A little extra won't hurt anything, and if it makes you happy... 

 

Dressing the finished pasta with a sprinkling of freshly chopped herbs, a basil chiffonade, e.g., is another good, visual finish.

 

Serve -- as usual -- with grated cheese on the table, so each diner may help herself.

 

It takes some practice to figure out how much sauce to put in the pan for a given amount of pasta.  When you first start marrying the pasta and sauce in a skillet, you'll find you need considerably less than you thought.  After you get some idea of how to portion, you'll find it easiest to make quick sauces in the skillet you're going to use anyway, rather than getting a separate pan dirty.  You'll still need that sauce pan for long simmered sauces, though. 

 

BDL

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post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

You can't actually "reduce" vodka. 

I don't agree. I had a cook for a short period of time that quickly reduced my vodka  drinkbeer.gif.  I had to let him go.rollsmile.gif LOL!

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post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
Wow don't even ask how I do my pasta dishes just assume I'm a smuck that poors heaps of sauce on top of a bowl a cooked out and strained pasta.



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post #11 of 22

Why not just add a thickener? 

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post #12 of 22

I've never made vodka sauce, but if your sauce is too thin you can do soemthing else.  You can cook it in a frying pan instead of a pot, and there is more surface to evaporate from.  I don't know about vodka, but with a sauce that uses wine, you usually add that directly after the soffritto (the shallots.garlic, oil and butter) and boil down to a syrupy consistency, and then add the tomatoes and boil down. You didn't describe your technique, and perhaps that's not the method for using vodka in sauce.  But if you cook the tomatoes quickly (because, in disagreement with durangojo, i think lots of sauces do well with quick cooking, if the tomatoes are sweet and ripe and flavorful - in fact i don;t like them to cook too much because i prefer the fresh taste) you can boil off the liquid in a frying pan more quickly and leave the tomatoes less cooked-tasting.  I wouldn't add the chicken broth, or so much of it, or would reduce it first before you use it if the flavor is important.  Tomatoes and garlic are strong flavors and i think of chicken broth as too subtle to make much of a difference here but that's my intuitive opinion and may be completely wrong. 

 

Alternatively, you could cook the pasta IN the sauce, following the way many here have indicated in other threads, though i've never done it.  In that way there would be some good sense in having a very liquid sauce to begin with which would be absorbed by the pasta.  I prefer the two to be separate myself, but it's a matter of taste, and you might take advantage of not only finishing the last couple of minutes of cooking in the pot with the sauce, but actually cook it longer in the pot of sauce than in the water, or entirely in the sauce.  It goes against the grain for me, and seems hard to calculate the cooking time, but it might work here.   

 

I'm curious what the vodka adds in terms of flavor, i wasn't aware it tasted of much except alcohol.  (maybe because strong alcohol is such an unfriendly taste to my tongue  that i'm not able to taste anything else, i don;t know, but i can taste the smell of cognac, but not of vodka, and on my tongue, they;re all just fire watersmile.gif). 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #13 of 22

I agree with BDL.on the procedures.  When I do this I usually use a tomato sauce that I already had made. My base tomato sauce consist of both crushed and tomato puree. I simply  add some vodka to a pan heat add tomato sauce and finish with heavy cream cook a bit more . All my herbs and spices, garlic  etc  were in the basic tomato sauce.  Keep in mind when adding an alcohol item to any starch based sauce, it will tend to make it slightly thinner. I have seen places that mix a Béchamel with tomato sauce and then vodka. Up to you. I serve with a shredded Loccatelli cheese on side. If they want extra sauce I serve it ots

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post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by siduri View Post

 

I'm curious what the vodka adds in terms of flavor, i wasn't aware it tasted of much except alcohol.  (maybe because strong alcohol is such an unfriendly taste to my tongue  that i'm not able to taste anything else, i don;t know, but i can taste the smell of cognac, but not of vodka, and on my tongue, they;re all just fire watersmile.gif). 

 

It doesn't taste at all like vodka!!  It tastes super super duper yummy.  I'm a sucker for sauces that combine tomato and cream and this has to be one of my favorites!  As I always seem to advise you... try it!

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by scribble View Post

Wow don't even ask how I do my pasta dishes just assume I'm a smuck that poors heaps of sauce on top of a bowl a cooked out and strained pasta.

 

 

Nobody said you were a schmuck, don't take it that way.  You've gotten so much good advice from posters here, wouldn't you say? 

 

I was just looking at my recipes and my vodka sauce is one I learned from Ina Garten.  The key to it is to cook it covered in the oven for nearly 2hrs.  I don't know how this sauce comes out so good but it's freaking delicious! http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/nick-and-tonis-penne-alla-vecchia-bettola-recipe/index.html

As with the other thread you started I would have to agree, be patient as things cook.  For some dishes it takes time for the flavors to develop fully.  Not all dishes are like that, but the ones you have posted about benefit most from letting them do their thing.

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post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

 

It doesn't taste at all like vodka!!  It tastes super super duper yummy.  I'm a sucker for sauces that combine tomato and cream and this has to be one of my favorites!  As I always seem to advise you... try it!

 

I'll try it next time i see it in a restaurant.  None of us drinks hard liquor here, so buying a bottle of vodka to try something would be silly - if i lived closer to many on the forum, however, i could certainly go by and borrow a cup!smile.gif

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by siduri View Post

I'll try it next time i see it in a restaurant.  None of us drinks hard liquor here, so buying a bottle of vodka to try something would be silly - if i lived closer to many on the forum, however, i could certainly go by and borrow a cup!smile.gif

 

You can buy a small bottle of vodka, they sell them even in individual sizes.  Keep the rest in the freezer or give it away.  It keeps really well, and considering how good the dish is my bet is on that you'll make it again anyway.

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post #17 of 22

ok ok, koukou,  i forgot about the mignon bottles - I have a hard time imagining the flavor of it in sauce

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #18 of 22

The vodka doesn't add any particular flavour by itself.

 

It does however enhance the flavour of other ingredients and change the aroma profile.

 

It is a funny ingredient however as it can do both harm and benefit depending on the concentration.

 

In large amounts it binds with volatile flavours and holds them in the sauce creating a 'different' sweet-hot-boozy strong taste.

In small amounts it helps to release volatile flavours and contributes to the aroma of a sauce, balancing some sweetness with it's slightly bitter taste.

 

When used in a tomato-cream sauce it should be kept at lower than 1% ABV so that it adds a bright aroma and a bit of non-capsacin  "heat" on the tongue.

 

To get a quick ratio - 1/4 cup vodka per 1 quart of Sauce - then simmer for about 5-10 minutes.  (assuming 80 proof vodka or 40% ABV)  Taste test as you simmer and stop at the right point for you.  

----

 


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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #19 of 22

Here we call it a fad sauce  because it was big for a while  now dying out like many other things truffle oil  etc.

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post #20 of 22

You can thicken it with a roux or potato.  I know, too easy.  I resent this being called a fad sauce.  I love it.  Just because it used to be served in every restaurant in town does not make it a fad sauce. It is delicious and a nice variation to the other common pasta sauces and has been made for years in many families.

post #21 of 22

It6 should not need to be thickened if made correctly

Chef EdB
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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by scribble View Post

I made a quick vodka cream sauce tonight but want it thicker. I used garlic, shallots, 28oz crushed tomatoes, 1 cup roughly of vodka , 1tbs olive oil,1tbs butter, 1 cup chicken stock and 1/2 cup cream. I sauted the garlic and shallots in the butter and oil. Added vodka and cooked till reduced in half. Added tomatoes,chicken stock and cooked to a slow boil. Added the cream and cooked to a simmer. What do you add to it or change to make it thicker.
 

 

I believe your amount of cream is way to low compared to the rest of the liquid in there. And the amount of tomato is way to high; there's a lot of liquid in them.

 

A suggestion; sweat shallot and garlic + pinch of chili flakes, add just a small dash of vodka (just a tbsp; personally I would go for white wine instead), let the alcohol evaporate for a while (smell, the mixture will change aromas when the alcohol is gone), add 1 cup of chicken stock, reduce to approx. half, add 1 cup of cream and let thicken to the wanted consistency. Taste & season!

 

Peel and deseed one or two large tomatoes and cut in small cubes (in culinary terms called a tomato concassé). Around 3/4 cup of tomato cubes is enough. Add to the sauce at the last moment and let them warm through. Did I mention taste & season? You could add a little fresh, finely cut tarragon.

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