I’m always on the look out for interesting ideas for smoked food dishes. A few days ago I saw a tweet from Sean Bardwell (@SBQue) mentioning a dish of penne pasta with smoked tomato sauce. I thought tomatoes, pasta and smoke that would be a nice combination. I reached out to Sean and he was kind enough to share his recipe. Sean lives in York, PA where he competes on the competition BBQ circuit as a member of the Tattoos N Que BBQ team.
I’d like to say I’m not one of those BBQ guys who thinks that bacon makes everything better, but that would be a complete lie! I love bacon and have a serious bacon collection and addiction. A few years ago I heard about Bakon vodka and have since been on a quest to add it to my collection. I finally was able to add the “grail” to my collection last week.
I’m a big fan of cooking with alcohol so I wanted to come up with some recipes based around this vodka. Everyone suggested Bloody Mary’s and granted I did create a delicious one, my Penne with smoked tomatoes was probably my favorite one.
I’m not your typical BBQ guy. Don’t get me wrong I can smoke an amazing brisket and competition style ribs, however, my motto is “I smoke everything”. BBQing is a great way to take all foods to another level. One of my favorite things to smoke are tomatoes. Kind of like different cuts of meat, different tomatoes impart a different flavor. When done right, smoking a tomato can add a completely different flavor profile to a dish. For the tomatoes in this recipe I used Compari brand tomatoes. I smoked them with a blend of apple, cherry & pecan around 225 for about an hour. Don’t over-smoke the tomatoes or they’ll end up not tasting like tomatoes, they’ll just taste like smoke.
- 28 oz whole smoked, Compari tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ½ cup Bakon vodka
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
- Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for topping
- 4 oz crumbled bacon
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook as the label directs. Drain pasta reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.
- Crush the tomatoes in a bowl with your hands (due to the smoke, I suggest wearing gloves).
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant. Remove from the heat and stir in the vodka, tomatoes and salt and pepper.
- Return the skillet to medium heat and simmer, stirring often, until the alcohol cooks off, about 7 minutes.
- Stir in the heavy cream, bring to a boil, reduce to a medium simmer, and cook until the sauce thickens slightly, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in the Parmesan and basil.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine, adding some of the reserved cooking water to loosen, if needed. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve topped with more Parmesan and basil.