As Pepe writes in an e-mail, they’ve been teaming up for a while.
“Joey, known as Joey Pants and an Emmy Award winning actor, was my original partner in my food ventures over 20 years ago,” Pepe says. “But even back in our youth, whether it was delivering newspapers or bussing tables in the high school cafeteria, we like to say we’ve been in business since the 60s.”
Now they’re starting a new venture, a response to all the requests Pepe has gotten for sauce recipes over the years. The pair is calling it the “Newman’s Own” of pasta sauces—all profits will support No Kidding Me Too, Pantoliano’s foundation that brings awareness to mental illness.
Buy the sauces at the Pepe and Pants website.
“Legend has it that Jackie O. ordered Penne alla Vodka whenever she visited Italian restaurants in America and in Europe,” the intro reads, “helping make it all the rage in fashion-conscious circles by the mid 70’s. Pepe’s version is to poach large prawns in the heated vodka sauce, then serve over penne and garnish with crispy chopped pancetta and peas creating his famous ‘JFK.’”
Penne alla Vodka “Jackie O” Recipe
INGREDIENTS (serves 4-6)
- 1 jar Pèpe & Pants Vodka Sauce
- ½ cup diced pancetta
- ½ cup cooked large peas
- Small bunch of pea sprouts
- Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
- Parmesan or Percorino cheese for grating or shaving
- Italian parsley for garnish (chopped or pulled leaves)
- Basil infused olive oil for garnish (or high quality extra-virgin olive oil)
- 1 pound penne pasta (or other cut pasta your choice)
- one shot high quality vodka (optional)
- 1 ½ pounds large prawns (optional to create the “JFK”)
Heat a large flat bottom sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté pancetta until caramelized and crispy, stirring often. Remove pancetta and hold on side. Pre-cook peas and hold on side. Add 1 jar Pèpe & Pants Vodka Sauce and heat gently on low. If adding additional vodka, add now. Add red pepper flakes if desired. If using prawns, add now and cook gently about 3 minutes.
Cook the pasta in 4 quarts of boiling salted water, approximately 8-10 minutes until firm but not overcooked. Drain lightly and add cooked pasta to sauce pan. Add one half of the crispy pancetta and peas and toss together, coating evenly.
Place pasta on a large serving platter or individual plates and top with remaining crispy pancetta and peas. Sprinkle on pea sprouts (if you can find them) or parsley, drizzle with basil-infused olive oil and add grated or shaved cheese.
And, by adding prawns and red pepper, you get the “JFK.”