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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Basil and Brandy Truffle Cream Sauce

My mother-in-law was staying over this week, and despite getting in a ton of awesome dining-out, I did want to make a couple of nice meals.

Nothing really unique or special about the elements making up this particular sauce; I've made countless similar cream sauces in the past, using everything here at different times.

So just one more iteration of this kind of cream sauce, this one mixing up the ingredients in a way I've never put them together before.

Most notably the basil with the brandy.

Also, the pork.  I made a rather large pork roast last week (for Easter), which was actually quite delicious, but gave us lots of leftovers.  This sauce saw the last of them - chopped and simmered into the cream sauce.

So, you'll note many similarities between this sauce and a few cream sauces that have come before, but I'll still detail how I made this one because it did combine a fair few things.

I started by soaking my dehydrated mushrooms.
On a whim, I tried some dehydrated mushrooms.  I don't think I'll ever buy them again.  Intended to be a delicacy, they were instead kinda gross.

Anyway, you're supposed to 're-hydrate' them before cooking, so I soaked them for over an hour in some salted water.

They looked and felt nice and soft and tender... so they got added to my simmering ingredients.  Which I will get to now.

I started with a decent slab of unsalted butter in a couple tablespoons of olive oil.

Then I added the pork.

The pork was very fatty and released a lot of delicious flavour into the sauce.  This was not a healthy sauce.  Hearty and awesome, yes, but very, very, rich.

Next came a fair bit of garlic and onion.

I let that simmer for about 5 minutes before moving on to the spices and herbs.  First came the freshly-ground fennel, parsley, oregano, and green pepper medley.

Then came the freshly-chopped basil.

I saved a particularly pretty-looking 'top' of one basil sprout.  

You'll see why later.

After turning the sauce about for a quick minute, I dumped a whole container of cream in.  I guess that's about 2 cups, right?  The size of carton between one cup and one litre... so whatever that is.

You can see the "sauce" is still very much separated.  It will take at least ten minutes before the fats in the solution mix.

At this point - while bringing the temperature up slowly (never bringing the stove up higher than medium) and whisking occasionally, I stirred in some truffle butter.

Just a little mind you.  A very small amount goes a long way.  Plus this stuff can be expensive.

And, over the entire length of cooking the sauce, I periodically added a few spoonfuls of brandy.  :)

After a while the sauce will thicken somewhat, and it will become beautifully uniform in texture.  All those fats will mix together, and you'll see it will become noticeably 'cleaner'.


Next I added some cornstarch (pre-dissolved into a small amount of skim milk, as always), and the sauce thickened more.

I like to add the thickening agent in small doses, and to a sauce which is already piping hot.  This does two things: one, it makes it safer so you don't 'over-thicken', and two, it makes it much quicker to see the thickening happen, so you're not waiting overly long to notice the effects.  In this case, I didn't end up using all my corn starch because it thickened quite a bit after only a small amount.

You can see how thick it got.

Anyway... at this point I drained the fresh tortellini I just boiled.

And tossed it into the sauce.  At this point there's not much else to do.  Don't need to mix it up too much, just give it all a good turn.

Then dump it into a large pasta serving bowl.

And decorate with fresh sprig of basil.


It looked purdy.