Ginuary 19th: Gin Penne Pasta.

Cooking with gin! Tonight I was determined to do a better job than my last and most tragic kitchen adventure. You can’t really go too wrong with pasta sauce, especially when it’s so well laid out for you like in the original recipe. I was super excited to try this and, spoiler alert, it was super awesome.

 Gin Penne Pasta

  • 500g penne pasta, cooked al dente
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 800g diced tomatoes (canned)
  • 1 cup gin
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste



I haven’t tinkered much with the original recipe. I’d love to make this again without the gin, just to see how much flavour the gin adds. I’d probably cut the sugar in half, because the sauce was really quite sweet (but freaking delicious, so). I always add at least double the amount of basil to a recipe, because basil.


Cooking! Alcohol! Two great things.

I ran into Bill McHenry at MoMa today and had a quick chat, so when I had to reach for the gin tonight it was a fairly obvious choice.


I fear chilli but I could have added more to this.

Add the olive oil to a medium pot with the onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook this over medium heat until the onions and garlic start to soften and it smells very fragrant. You don’t want the onions to brown at all. They should just get soft over medium heat which will take around 5-6 minutes.

It did take approximately that long for me, so good job team.


Sugar syrup!

Then add in your tomatoes and sugar. The small amount of sugar balances some of the acidity of the tomatoes.

Maybe the sauce tasted so sweet because I used sugar syrup instead of granulated sugar. The measurements shouldn’t have needed fixing, because I only made 1:1 syrup. I just wanted to crack it open because I just made it a couple of days ago!

Continue to cook this for a few minutes. OKAY!



At this point our sauce is pretty standard, but it’s about to get a big bump in the flavor department—starting with the gin. A whole cup. It doesn’t really matter what brand of gin you use, but I wouldn’t use super-cheap stuff.




Bring this sauce to a simmer and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly. Your goal here is to cook off most of the alcohol and reduce the gin flavors. You’ll know when it’s done because the sauce won’t smell intensely like alcohol!

I simmered for closer to the 20-25 minute mark, not because of the boozy smell but because the sauce still looked super runny. Also, I don’t really know what I’m doing, so don’t take advice from me.


Get on top. I mean… stir in.

As a final step stir in some cream which will mellow out some of the flavors and give the sauce a nice, rich texture.

Dude, that’s not the final step, don’t get carried away. But it’s true, it does make it deliciously creamy. I’m not really a fan of straight-up tomato-base pasta sauce, so cream is probably a nice way to “fix” it for me. Good job, recipe. It’s like you really know me.



Any time I’m trying to make a really good tomato-based pasta sauce, there are two ingredients that I almost always include: Real Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil. Add a good amount of these to the sauce and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

There we go. Now we’re done. Pretty sure I added about half a cup of basil. Basil from my OWN HERB GARDEN, note well, because I HAVEN’T KILLED IT! Yet. Always yet.


Classic. McHenry Classic.

Pasta time. I may have accidentally overcooked it because right at the pivotal al dente moment I was distracted by the internet. Such is my life.



GUYS! THIS PASTA IS DELICIOUS! I have to admit, I’m really glad I accidentally left this too late to invite anyone over for dinner because it means I have leftovers to eat. I only cooked enough pasta for two serves, so I mixed those two up and refrigerated one of the two. The other one I ate immediately, because it was already way past dinner time. The rest of the pasta I bottled up in a recycled pasta sauce bottle I had under my sink because I’m a responsible adult!



Always more basil.