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Penne Alla Vodka with Chicken and Chorizo

My penne alla vodka is creamy and full of deep tomato flavor from homemade marinara along with plenty of seared chicken and chorizo sausage. Easy weeknight meal
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 650kcal
Author Just a Little Bit of Bacon


  • 12 oz penne
  • 1/2 lb chicken breast, about large breast
  • 1/2 lb chorizo sausage
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup vodka
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes, optional
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tbsp sliced fresh basil


  • Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook it according to the package directions. Before draining the pasta, scoop out 1-2 cups of pasta water.
  • Slice the chicken breast down through the meat into 1/4 inch thick cross sliced pieces and then cut the pieces into bite-sized chunks. Similarly, slice up the chorizo into 1/4 inch thick bite-sized pieces.
  • In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil on medium-high heat until shimmery. Season the chicken well with salt and pepper and lay the pieces in the skillet. Sear them, unmoving for 1-2 minutes. When they are ready they will loosen from the bottom of the pan. Flip them over and sear until the chicken is cooked through, another 1-2 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl.
  • Add the chorizo to the now empty skillet and give it a good sear on both sides, 3-4 minutes total. Remove the chorizo to the bowl.
  • Lower the heat to medium-low and add the vodka. Cook for about 30 seconds. The vodka will be almost cooked off. Then add the marinara sauce, red pepper flakes (if using), and cream and bring the sauce to a simmer. 
  • Once the pasta is done, add it to the skillet along with 1 cup of the pasta water. Simmer the pasta with the sauce for about 2 minutes, adding more pasta water if needed. Add the meat back in to warm it up. Sprinkle the basil over the top and serve.


  • Timing: Penne takes about 10 minutes to cook and the sauce takes about 15 minutes to make including searing the meat. So that I'm not trying to juggle too much at once I like to put the pasta in the water at about the time I'm searing the chorizo. The sauce can simmer for a few extra minutes but I don't like to let the pasta sit. Also, begin heating the water when you are pulling out the ingredients and prepping. That way it'll already be at a boil when you begin cooking.
  • Chicken: Since the chicken is cut thin and seared quickly, I chose to salt the chicken instead of giving it a brine. The salt gives it plenty of flavor and by removing the chicken to a bowl and only adding it back at the very end you can keep from drying it out.
  • Chorizo: The chorizo/linguica I buy is smoked sausage which I find near the bacon in the market. I find it in links, in sliced rounds, and in chopped packets. Use either the links or sliced rounds in this recipe.
  • Sauce: I use my own marinara sauce in the recipe and would (obviously!) recommend you try it as well. However, any well-balanced, simple, fresh tasting sauce will give good results.


Calories: 650kcal