Penne alla “Bloody Mary” Chicken

I do like a Bloody Mary. I rediscovered them on my honeymoon whilst cruising around the Caribbean. It’s fine to have a little tipple with breakfast when you’re on holiday and there’s zero risk of drink-driving, right? Especially when you can sip your drink whilst watching your (overly) eager fellow passengers doing laps of the jogging track.

It was very nearly a love affair that didn’t last long, mind you. A few weeks after that honeymoon we were in Brighton for our friend’s Stag Party. The day started, as all good days should, with a bottomless booze Drag Brunch. Yes, I know there’s a lot to absorb from that sentence, but for now let’s focus on the words bottomless and booze. If I’d have stuck to Mimosas then I’d have been fine, but there was no risk of that with the option of a Bloody Mary on the menu. No, sir! Suffice it to say I didn’t know when to stop and was in bed by 9pm. Bad Scott!

You live, you learn. One or two Bloody Marys is fine, but when you get into double figures it’s time to pause and spend a bit of time thinking about your behaviour. Or, as I’ve been doing recently with my Cocktail Collection, try and find different ways to consume your favourite drinks. That’s right – the latest member of the club is this rather delightful, and somewhat awkwardly named, Penne alla “Bloody Mary” Chicken. And a very worthy addition it is too.

Admittedly this rich and spicy tomato pasta recipe is a bit of a mongrel. There’s more than a passing resemblance to Penne all’Arrabbiata – which is entirely intentional. Obviously the addition of vodka (and chicken) takes us away from a pure arrabbiata sauce, but some of the key elements are still here. Plenty of tomatoes, a splash of olive oil and a nice kick of chilli. After all, any decent Bloody Mary should have a decent splash of Tabasco and this recipe is no exception.

The core of the Bloody Mary influence comes from the marinated chicken, which is left to bathe in tomato juice, vodka and spices overnight. I think that this helps to keep the chicken moist, but I could be trying to convince myself that I’ve not gone a bit mad. The marinade then becomes the base of the sauce, with the chicken fried in a separate pan to give it a bit of colour and more flavour.

By the time it all comes together you end up with a wonderful plate of food that really does taste like a Bloody Mary. Admittedly one that should be enjoyed at lunch or dinner time, not breakfast. In my opinion at least. After all, if you find yourself craving a drink with your cornflakes there’s bound to be some spare tomato juice in the fridge just looking for a little bit of Russian influence…


Penne alla “Bloody Mary” Chicken

A combination of the Italian classic pasta recipe, Penne all’Arrabbiata, and my favourite brunch cocktail. The vodka isn’t really needed for the flavour but it certainly adds to the fun in this fresh and spicy chicken pasta dish. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chicken, Pasta, Poultry
Servings: 2
Calories: 664kcal


For the Marinated Chicken

  • 250 ml Tomato Juice
  • 50 ml Vodka
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Chilli Sauce e.g. Tabasco
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp Celery Salt
  • 1 Lemon juice only
  • 300 g Chicken Breasts cut into 2cm chunks

For the Main Dish

  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 stick Celery finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic peeled and crushed
  • ¼ tsp Dried Chilli Flakes
  • 150 g Cherry Tomatoes halved
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Purée
  • 1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 150 g Dried Penne
  • 5 g Fresh Basil shredded


  • Put the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined. Add the chicken then stir to coat. Cover, or transfer to a zip-lock bag, then marinate in fridge overnight.
  • When ready to cook, start by heating 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a deep frying pan over a medium heat. Add the celery and sauté for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften. Add in the garlic and chilli flakes, then stir to mix. Cook for a further minute until fragrant.
  • Pour the marinade from the chicken into the pan and bring to a simmer. Add the cherry tomatoes, tomato purée and balsamic vinegar, then loosely cover and allow to reduce for 10 minutes until thickened.
  • Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the penne for a minute or so less than the instructions on the pack.
  • Heat the remaining olive oil in a second pan, then add the marinated chicken and sauté for 5-6 minutes until golden and cooked through. When cooked add to the tomato sauce.
  • Drain the pasta, reserving a small amount of the cooking water. Add both to the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Cook together for a further minute.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh basil.
  • Serve garnished with a few more basil leaves.


Estimated Values per Serving
of which Saturates3g
of which Sugars9g
Note: Nutritional information shown is per serving of the above recipe. Any side dishes or garnishes shown in photos are not included in these values, unless they are specifically listed as part of the recipe.

Scott Silverthorn

Hi, I’m Scott. I love cooking food and I love eating it - both useful credentials for writing a food blog! I get a lot of joy from sharing my passion with my friends and family, so here's hoping you enjoy it too.

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