As we patiently wait for the next season of Top Chef to appear on Bravo, Chris and I have become obsessed with the next best thing: Chef Academy featuring Chef Jean Christophe Novelli and his cooking school in Venice, CA. It was only a matter of time before we wanted to make one of his many simple yet fabulous recipes. The thing I love about Novelli’s style is that he favors fresh and organic ingredients, tons of herbs, and a passion for cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Because of him, I’ve been experimenting far more with fresh herbs and spices and it really packs so much more flavor in everything that I make.
Over the weekend, we attempted to make the recipe for his Grandma Louise’s tomato sauce. It was nothing like I have ever tasted before – sweet with a hint of licorice and delightfully thick. Here is the recipe if you’d like to try it!
6 lb (2.7 kg) Beef or Heirloom tomatoes
4 Star anise
1 Vanilla pod
Sea salt & cracked black pepper to season
2 Sprig fresh thyme
1-2 Bay leaves
28gm bunch fresh basil
Extra virgin olive oil
- Place a heavy cast pan to heat up.
- Wash the tomatoes and halve roughly.
- Place into the hot pan and season with salt, pepper and a touch of sugar.
- Add the anise and vanilla.
- Allow the tomatoes to start to cook then press them gently with a masher to help them to release their juice.
- Reduce the heat down to just simmering and continue for about 1_ -2 hours until a thickened paste. This slow evaporation of the moisture from the tomatoes will produce a deep colour concentrated flavour without any bitterness.
- Crack the garlic and add along with the basil which is just halved and throw in.
- Combine with the warm paste and finish with a good amount of olive oil to finish the infusion. Allow to cool before storing ready for use.
In the beginning…
The recipe calls for basil so we tossed in a couple leaves and let the sauce reduce to a thick texture…
Voila! We served the sauce atop fresh fettuccine alongside simply seasoned and roasted carrots and garlic infused chicken breast. What I do is marinate chicken breast with a rub, then make small incisions and insert a clove of garlic into the breast. When it bakes, the garlic’s flavor and juices spreads throughout the chicken, making it oh-s0-flavorful and yummy.