WEEKEND RECAP: A Recipe from Chef Academy

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

White sugar

2 Sprig fresh thyme

1-2 Bay leaves

Fresh garlic

28gm bunch fresh basil

Extra virgin olive oil

  1. Place a heavy cast pan to heat up.
  2. Wash the tomatoes and halve roughly.
  3. Place into the hot pan and season with salt, pepper and a touch of sugar.
  4. Add the anise and vanilla.
  5. Allow the tomatoes to start to cook2_bing.gif then press them gently with a masher to help them to release their juice.
  6. Reduce the heat down to just simmering and continue for about 1_ -2 hours until a thickened paste. This slow evaporation of the moisture2_bing.gif from the tomatoes will produce a deep colour concentrated flavour without any bitterness.
  7. Crack the garlic and add along with the basil which is just halved and throw in.
  8. 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.

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