Vodka sauce question.

Discussion in 'Food and nutrition' started by Richard Periut, Feb 7, 2004.

  1. Recently I tasted a vodka sauce recipe from a local Italian Ma & Pa place. The place is very good;
    byob, quick service, and the best Italian food in the area.

    I ordered a Penne a la Vodka as a side dish, and found it quite good. However, my questions are:

    1 Vodka is pretty much tasteless, so what does it give the dish?

    2 The ETOH of the vodka evaporates during cooking; and considering that vodka is 40% ETOH by volume,
    what is left is H20 and some residual unfermentable sugars, et cetera.

    3 I can see adding a nice splash to a sauce already made; but the recipes I've seen, don't
    call for that.

    Any opinions on the matter?

    Regards,

    Rich
    --
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dum spiro, spero. (Cicero) As long as I breathe, I hope.
     
    Tags:


  2. Sf

    Sf Guest

    On Sun, 08 Feb 2004 02:37:07 GMT, Richard Periut
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Any opinions on the matter?
    >
    I don't think "vodka" sauce is anything special.

    I have the same objections to it that I have against most restaurant tomato sauces served over
    pasta... it's too bland to order again.

    Practice safe eating - always use condiments
     
  3. Alzelt

    Alzelt Guest

    Richard Periut wrote:
    > Recently I tasted a vodka sauce recipe from a local Italian Ma & Pa place. The place is very good;
    > byob, quick service, and the best Italian food in the area.
    >
    > I ordered a Penne a la Vodka as a side dish, and found it quite good. However, my questions are:
    >
    > 1 Vodka is pretty much tasteless, so what does it give the dish?
    >
    > 2 The ETOH of the vodka evaporates during cooking; and considering that vodka is 40% ETOH by
    > volume, what is left is H20 and some residual unfermentable sugars, et cetera.
    >
    > 3 I can see adding a nice splash to a sauce already made; but the recipes I've seen, don't call
    > for that.
    >
    > Any opinions on the matter?
    >
    > Regards,
    >
    > Rich

    Rich,

    The vodka is present courtesy of a local contest in Italy where recipes were to contain some vodka
    (guess who sponsored the contest?). Stop trying to rationalize what was never intended. It was never
    designed to do anything. And it does it so well!!!
    --
    Alan

    "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might bet-
    ter stay home."
    -- James Michener
     
  4. Reg

    Reg Guest

    Richard Periut wrote:

    > 1 Vodka is pretty much tasteless, so what does it give the dish?
    >

    The theory behind using vodka is that it dissolves the alcohol soluble compounds and disperses them
    throughout the sauce. I'd say the jury is still out on this one.

    --
    Reg email: RegForte (at) (that free MS email service) (dot) com
     
  5. John Gaughan

    John Gaughan Guest

    Richard Periut wrote:
    > 1 Vodka is pretty much tasteless, so what does it give the dish?

    Vodka is not tasteless, what brand do you drink? I do admit it has less taste than whiskey, for
    example, but it is hardly tasteless.

    > Any opinions on the matter?

    I think if you're going to cook with alcohol, use it where it counts and will be tasted. For
    example, I cook ground sirloin with a little bourbon to add flavor. The meat absorbs some of the
    bourbon, and I can taste it in the finished product (usually pasta sauce or chili). Vodka in cream
    sauce has a unique taste, but it's nothing special, and certainly not strong enough to matter.

    --
    John Gaughan http://www.johngaughan.net/ [email protected]
     
  6. Bob

    Bob Guest

    Richard Periut wrote:

    > Recently I tasted a vodka sauce recipe from a local Italian Ma & Pa place. The place is very good;
    > byob, quick service, and the best Italian food in the area.
    >
    > I ordered a Penne a la Vodka as a side dish, and found it quite good. However, my questions are:
    >
    > 1 Vodka is pretty much tasteless, so what does it give the dish?

    The alcohol isn't tasteless. Vodka doesn't have congeners to add flavor like whiskies, but it
    certainly can be tasted.

    > 2 The ETOH of the vodka evaporates during cooking; and considering that vodka is 40% ETOH by
    > volume, what is left is H20 and some residual unfermentable sugars, et cetera.

    Not much of the alcohol actually evaporates in the short cook time of most vodka sauces. Here's a
    pickup from <http://www.canoe.ca/HealthMayeMuskColumns/011009.html>

    There's more info on the page, but this is the crux of it.

    Preparation method Percent retained

    Alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat 85%

    Alcohol flamed 75%

    No heat, stored overnight 70%

    Baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture 45%

    Baked/simmered, alcohol stirred into mixture 15 minutes 40% 30 minutes 35% 1 hour 25%
    1.5 hours 20% 2 hours 10%
    2.5 hours 5%

    Depending on your method of cooking, expect 45 - 75% alcohol in the final dish.

    Bob
     
  7. Frogleg

    Frogleg Guest

    On Sun, 08 Feb 2004 04:44:26 GMT, alzelt
    <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >Richard Periut wrote:

    >> I ordered a Penne a la Vodka as a side dish, and found it quite good. However, my questions are:
    >>
    >> 1 Vodka is pretty much tasteless, so what does it give the dish?
    >
    >The vodka is present courtesy of a local contest in Italy where recipes were to contain some vodka
    >(guess who sponsored the contest?). Stop trying to rationalize what was never intended. It was
    >never designed to do anything. And it does it so well!!!

    This sounds like the most likely explanation to me. I recently read an interesting article (which I
    did not bookmark) by a (newspaper? magazine?) food writer who felt a little guilty about joining a
    flock of food writers accepting an all expense paid trip and presentations sponsored by, I think,
    olive oil companies. The next month all the food pages were full of OO recipes and comparisons and
    suggestions to taste and compare. Beware when a flood of anchovie recipes and articles appear!
     
  8. John Gaughan wrote:

    > Richard Periut wrote:
    >
    >> 1 Vodka is pretty much tasteless, so what does it give the dish?
    >
    >
    > Vodka is not tasteless, what brand do you drink? I do admit it has less taste than whiskey, for
    > example, but it is hardly tasteless.
    >
    >> Any opinions on the matter?
    >
    >
    > I think if you're going to cook with alcohol, use it where it counts and will be tasted. For
    > example, I cook ground sirloin with a little bourbon to add flavor. The meat absorbs some of the
    > bourbon, and I can taste it in the finished product (usually pasta sauce or chili). Vodka in cream
    > sauce has a unique taste, but it's nothing special, and certainly not strong enough to matter.
    >
    I stand corrected; Vodka has some taste, but very subtle-and forget about tasting it diluted in a
    sauce that has been heated (the ETOH evaporates very quickly, and whatever compounds are left are I
    think not appreciated.) I enjoy gray goose & Ketel One (very cold and straight) every now and then,
    but I'm a scotch (single malt) guy.

    Rich
    --
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dum spiro, spero. (Cicero) As long as I breathe, I hope.
     
  9. Bob wrote:

    > Richard Periut wrote:
    >
    >> Recently I tasted a vodka sauce recipe from a local Italian Ma & Pa place. The place is very
    >> good; byob, quick service, and the best Italian food in the area.
    >>
    >> I ordered a Penne a la Vodka as a side dish, and found it quite good. However, my questions are:
    >>
    >> 1 Vodka is pretty much tasteless, so what does it give the dish?
    >
    >
    > The alcohol isn't tasteless. Vodka doesn't have congeners to add flavor like whiskies, but it
    > certainly can be tasted.
    >
    >> 2 The ETOH of the vodka evaporates during cooking; and considering that vodka is 40% ETOH by
    >> volume, what is left is H20 and some residual unfermentable sugars, et cetera.
    >
    >
    > Not much of the alcohol actually evaporates in the short cook time of most vodka sauces. Here's a
    > pickup from <http://www.canoe.ca/HealthMayeMuskColumns/011009.html>
    >
    > There's more info on the page, but this is the crux of it.
    >
    > Preparation method Percent retained
    >
    > Alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat 85%
    >
    > Alcohol flamed 75%
    >
    > No heat, stored overnight 70%
    >
    > Baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture 45%
    >
    > Baked/simmered, alcohol stirred into mixture 15 minutes 40% 30 minutes 35% 1 hour 25%
    > 1.5 hours 20% 2 hours 10%
    > 2.5 hours 5%
    >
    > Depending on your method of cooking, expect 45 - 75% alcohol in the final dish.
    >
    > Bob
    >
    Interesting, I hope my muslim friends never find out about this; I had a hard time convincing them
    to eat ; ) Funny that they did not feel it; or maybe they did and never told me ; )

    Rich

    --
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dum spiro, spero. (Cicero) As long as I breathe, I hope.
     
  10. Victor Sack

    Victor Sack Guest

    Richard Periut <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Any opinions on the matter?

    Posted a few years ago:

    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. </quote>

    Victor
     
  11. Mark Shaw

    Mark Shaw Guest

    In article <[email protected]>,
    Richard Periut <[email protected]> wrote:
    >1 Vodka is pretty much tasteless, so what does it give the dish?

    The idea is to release flavor components in the tomatoes that aren't water-soluble. The vodka itself
    isn't supposed to impart much flavor to the sauce.

    --
    Mark Shaw contact info at homepage --> http://www.panix.com/~mshaw
    ========================================================================
    "Grown men are not comfortable explaining why they want to use the sniper rifle on fictional dogs
    with speech impediments." -James Lileks
     
  12. Bob

    Bob Guest

    Richard Periut wrote:

    > Bob wrote:

    >> Depending on your method of cooking, expect 45 - 75% alcohol in the final dish.
    >>
    >> Bob
    >>
    > Interesting, I hope my muslim friends never find out about this; I had a hard time convincing them
    > to eat ; ) Funny that they did not feel it; or maybe they did and never told me ; )

    A zillion years ago, a teetotaling acquaintance who took great pride in never having tasted alcohol
    ate 5 or 6 creme de menthe parfaits from a rather elegant dinner we were both at. He became very
    voluble and much more cheerful than usual.

    Asked me how they were made. I told him I didn't know. Dodged that bullet.

    Bob
     
  13. Dimitri

    Dimitri Guest

    "Richard Periut" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Recently I tasted a vodka sauce recipe from a local Italian Ma & Pa place. The place is very good;
    > byob, quick service, and the best Italian food in the area.
    >
    > I ordered a Penne a la Vodka as a side dish, and found it quite good. However, my questions are:
    >
    > 1 Vodka is pretty much tasteless, so what does it give the dish?

    Nope - There are many flavors of vodka athough the basic flavor for me is lemon zest (very subtle).

    > 2 The ETOH of the vodka evaporates during cooking; and considering that vodka is 40% ETOH by
    > volume, what is left is H20 and some residual unfermentable sugars, et cetera.

    see above - The et cetra is where the flavor is.

    > 3 I can see adding a nice splash to a sauce already made; but the recipes I've seen, don't call
    > for that.

    IMHO One of the advantages is you can make a tomato cream sauce with a lemon background withoug
    breaking the cream.
     
  14. Adam Fineman

    Adam Fineman Guest

    Richard Periut wrote:
    > Recently I tasted a vodka sauce recipe from a local Italian Ma & Pa place. The place is very good;
    > byob, quick service, and the best Italian food in the area.
    >
    > I ordered a Penne a la Vodka as a side dish, and found it quite good. However, my questions are:
    >
    > 1 Vodka is pretty much tasteless, so what does it give the dish? <snip>

    As other people have said, tomatoes contain a few compounds that are alcohol-soluble. Adding alcohol
    to a tomato-based sauce will release those flavor compounds into the sauce. Vodka is commonly used
    because, while not completely tasteless, has a fairly neutral flavor. Other sauces might use white
    wine. I would avoid red wines as they often are too complex to just add to a recipe that is already
    fairly well balanced, especially if the sauce will be reduced further.

    You should try it yourself. When I first heard that tomatoes have alcohol-soluble flavors, I made a
    fairly simple tomato sauce and split it in half when it was done. I added a shot of vodka to one and
    let them both continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. I could definitely taste the difference, and
    it was not vodka I was tasting. The sauce just seemed to have a wider range of flavors.

    - Adam

    --
    Adam Fineman

    (Reverse domain name to reply.)
     
  15. On Sun, 08 Feb 2004 03:40:49 GMT, sf <[email protected]> wrote:

    >On Sun, 08 Feb 2004 02:37:07 GMT, Richard Periut <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >> Any opinions on the matter?
    >>
    >I don't think "vodka" sauce is anything special.
    >
    >I have the same objections to it that I have against most restaurant tomato sauces served over
    >pasta... it's too bland to order again.

    I am baffled. Is vodka sauce the same at all restaurants?

    Rodney Myrvaagnes NYC J36 Gjo/a

    "Be careful. The toe you stepped on yesterday may be connected to the ass you have to kiss today."
    --Former mayor Ciancia
     
  16. On Sun, 8 Feb 2004 21:47:10 +0100, [email protected] (Victor
    Sack) wrote:

    >Richard Periut <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >> Any opinions on the matter?
    >
    >Posted a few years ago:
    >
    >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. </quote>
    >
    I first saw it on a menu in Quebec City in 1965. I didn't order it because it didn't make sense to
    me. The subsequent discussions on this group lead me to think of trying it sometime.

    I don't believe, without further evidence, that a large fraction of the alcohol remains after
    cooking. If that were true, stills wouldn't work in a reasonable period of time.

    Rodney Myrvaagnes NYC J36 Gjo/a

    "Be careful. The toe you stepped on yesterday may be connected to the ass you have to kiss today."
    --Former mayor Ciancia
     
  17. Kenneth

    Kenneth Guest

    On Tue, 10 Feb 2004 00:21:16 GMT, "Dimitri" <[email protected]>
    wrote:

    >Nope - There are many flavors of vodka athough the basic flavor for me is lemon zest (very subtle).
    >

    Howdy,

    No expert I, but it was my understanding that in Russia, if there were detectable flavors, the
    distillate of fermented potatoes could not be sold as "vodka."

    All the best,

    --
    Kenneth

    If you email... Please remove the "SPAMLESS."
     
  18. Dimitri wrote:

    > "Richard Periut" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]...
    >
    >>Recently I tasted a vodka sauce recipe from a local Italian Ma & Pa place. The place is very good;
    >>byob, quick service, and the best Italian food in the area.
    >>
    >>I ordered a Penne a la Vodka as a side dish, and found it quite good. However, my questions are:
    >>
    >>1 Vodka is pretty much tasteless, so what does it give the dish?
    >
    >
    > Nope - There are many flavors of vodka athough the basic flavor for me is lemon zest (very
    > subtle).
    >
    >

    Sure, if you are drinking Citron : )

    >
    >>2 The ETOH of the vodka evaporates during cooking; and considering that vodka is 40% ETOH by
    >>volume, what is left is H20 and some residual unfermentable sugars, et cetera.
    >
    >
    > see above - The et cetra is where the flavor is.
    >
    >
    Gee, I wish I had your superbuds, that can detect these nuances mixed in a cream sauce.

    >
    >
    >>3 I can see adding a nice splash to a sauce already made; but the recipes I've seen, don't call
    >>for that.
    >
    >
    > IMHO One of the advantages is you can make a tomato cream sauce with a lemon background withoug
    > breaking the cream.
    >
    >

    --
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dum spiro, spero. (Cicero) As long as I breathe, I hope.
     
  19. Adam Fineman wrote:
    > Richard Periut wrote:
    >
    >> Recently I tasted a vodka sauce recipe from a local Italian Ma & Pa place. The place is very
    >> good; byob, quick service, and the best Italian food in the area.
    >>
    >> I ordered a Penne a la Vodka as a side dish, and found it quite good. However, my questions are:
    >>
    >> 1 Vodka is pretty much tasteless, so what does it give the dish? <snip>
    >
    >
    > As other people have said, tomatoes contain a few compounds that are alcohol-soluble. Adding
    > alcohol to a tomato-based sauce will release those flavor compounds into the sauce. Vodka is
    > commonly used because, while not completely tasteless, has a fairly neutral flavor. Other sauces
    > might use white wine. I would avoid red wines as they often are too complex to just add to a
    > recipe that is already fairly well balanced, especially if the sauce will be reduced further.
    >
    > You should try it yourself. When I first heard that tomatoes have alcohol-soluble flavors, I made
    > a fairly simple tomato sauce and split it in half when it was done. I added a shot of vodka to one
    > and let them both continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. I could definitely taste the
    > difference, and it was not vodka I was tasting. The sauce just seemed to have a wider range of
    > flavors.
    >
    > - Adam
    >

    I'm gonna give it a try. Thanks for the responses from you all.

    Rich

    --
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dum spiro, spero. (Cicero) As long as I breathe, I hope.
     
  20. On Tue, 10 Feb 2004 13:09:43 -0500, Adam Fineman
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Richard Periut wrote:
    >> Recently I tasted a vodka sauce recipe from a local Italian Ma & Pa place. The place is very
    >> good; byob, quick service, and the best Italian food in the area.
    >>
    >> I ordered a Penne a la Vodka as a side dish, and found it quite good. However, my questions are:
    >>
    >> 1 Vodka is pretty much tasteless, so what does it give the dish? <snip>
    >
    >As other people have said, tomatoes contain a few compounds that are alcohol-soluble. Adding
    >alcohol to a tomato-based sauce will release those flavor compounds into the sauce. Vodka is
    >commonly used because, while not completely tasteless, has a fairly neutral flavor. Other sauces
    >might use white wine. I would avoid red wines as they often are too complex to just add to a recipe
    >that is already fairly well balanced, especially if the sauce will be reduced further.
    >
    >You should try it yourself. When I first heard that tomatoes have alcohol-soluble flavors, I
    >made a fairly simple tomato sauce and split it in half when it was done. I added a shot of
    >vodka to one and let them both continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. I could definitely
    >taste the difference, and it was not vodka I was tasting. The sauce just seemed to have a wider
    >range of flavors.
    >
    Thanks, Adam. You actually contributed something helpful to the discussion.

    Rodney Myrvaagnes J36 Gjo/a

    "That idiot Leibniz, who wants to teach me about the infinitesimally small! Has he therefore
    forgotten that I am the wife of Frederick I? How can he imagine that I am unacquainted with my
    own husband?"
     
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