Argillae Orvieto with Fettucine with Vodka and Lemon from Patricia Wells 'French Kitchen Cookbook'

Worried about what to serve with the recipes in The French Kitchen Cookbook (William Morrow, October 2013) by Patricia Wells, Patricia recommends a wine pairing with each dish.

In this case an Italian white preferably an Orvieto.

Fettuccine with vodka and lemon

• 6 servings •

One of the greatest hits from my Trattoria cookbook was Penne with Spicy Tomato-Cream Sauce, or what is generally known as vodka pasta, a dish inspired by one served at a trattoria in Florence. This is a clear variation on the theme, made with nests of fettuccine and a nice hit of citrus. It’s a real go-to weeknight pasta in our house.

Equipment: A 10-quart (10 l) pasta pot fitted with a colander; a large skillet with a lid; 6 warmed, shallow soup bowls.

1 pound (500 g) dried Italian fettuccine
3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon vodka
1 cup (250 ml) light cream or half-and-half
1/2 cup (35 g) freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Grated zest of 2 lemons, preferably organic
Coarse, freshly ground black pepper


1. In the pasta pot, bring 8 quarts (8 l) of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the fettuccine
and salt, stirring to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook until tender but firm to the bite, about
6 minutes. While the pasta cooks, warm the lemon juice, vodka, and cream in the large skillet.

2. When the pasta is al dente, remove the pot from the heat. Remove the colander and drain the
pasta over the sink, shaking to get rid of the excess water. Reserve some of the cooking water for
the sauce.

3. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to evenly coat the fettuccine. If the pasta is dry, add
pasta cooking water, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the pasta is moist. Add half of the cheese and toss once more. Taste for seasoning. Cover and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the pasta to thoroughly absorb the sauce. Toss again. Taste for seasoning.

4. Transfer the pasta to the individual soup bowls. Season with the lemon zest and freshly ground
pepper. Serve immediately, passing the remaining cheese and a pepper mill at the table. 

The secret : The secret here is not to burn off the alcohol by reducing the vodka. Even though vodka is a neutral spirit, it is not flavorless. The key is that the flavor is in the alcohol, so burn off the alcohol, burn off the flavor.

Wine suggestion : A lovely Italian white is my choice here. For some reason this dish takes me back to the charming town of Orvieto, so I’ll suggest the Argillae Orvieto from Umbria.

(* Recipe excerpted from 'The French Kitchen Cookbook' by Patricia Wells- published by William Morrow, October 2013- Photographs byJeff Kauck, all rights reserved)

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