I came across a recipe that seemed suited to my tastes while flipping through my Food & Wine issues last month: “$4 Spaghetti that Tastes Like $24 Spaghetti.”
Long story short: New York Chef Scott Conant puts out an acclaimed tomato-basil spaghetti at his restaurant Scarpetta. What makes it special is a basil, garlic and chili-infused oil that adds a great depth of flavor to the final product. See how he does it here.
In Food & Wine, Roy Choi, L.A.’s King of Kogi, takes inspiration from Conant’s recipe, infusing the sauce with a concentrated mushroom broth for some extra umami. His recipe doesn’t make the infused oil. Check it here on Food & Wine.
I combined the ideas behind both recipes for my version, making both the infused oil and the mushroom broth.
Use 1 cup of olive oil with the quantity of garlic and basil Choi calls for in his dish. I tried just infusing the 2/3 cup that he calls for, but there wasn’t enough oil to cover all of the ingredients. After infusing the 1 cup of oil, I went back to the recipe, using 2/3 cup of the infused oil to make the sauce.
Keep a Mason jar on hand because this recipe leaves you a jar of leftover sauce on purpose.
When the pasta was ready to be plated, I finished it with a little more of the infused oil (as Conant does, saying the last flavors on are the first you will taste) and then gave it a fair dusting of Parmesan cheese.
A couple hours of work for a seemingly-simple pasta dish, but it’s a good lesson on how to enhance flavors with a few easy techniques.