There are times when I fancy myself an “accomplished” cook and by accomplished I mean I haven’t given anyone food poisoning…yet.
I like to try new things, most of which are found in the middle of the night when I have nothing else but Googling to do, and I have had few fails. That being said, I’ve found there are a few things I cook with frequently.
Butter, because it makes everything taste like a delicious heart attack waiting to happen and keeps things from sticking to the pans.
Garlic, because I love the taste and find reasons to sneak it into any recipe.
Olive oil, because it gives a great flavor when roasting chicken or cooking some sides.
The butter and garlic are fairly straightforward ingredients. Yes, you can alter them but that takes serious effort and they come with short life spans. Olive oil though? It’s like the old Ronco Showtime Rotisserie Oven’s, “Set it and forget it!”
I like basil but unfortunately don’t cook with too much. It adds a fresh flavor to dishes but it doesn’t always work with everything. One of my favorite things to cook is a roasted lemon, garlic and rosemary chicken. One of the steps in the prep process is to give the chicken a rub down with olive oil because it helps with browning the skin while roasting. I normally use a garlic olive oil but given I’ve recently began gardening, I have so much basil I don’t know what to do with it.
Cue the olive oil!
I like herb infused olive oil because it adds flavor that’s not overpowering but an all around great kick. Seeing as I have Google skills, a Mason jar, some extra virgin olive oil and more basil than an Italian bistro, I set to find out how to make my own basil infused oil.
Warning: it’s super easy but not instantaneous.
Step one is making sure you have clean basil. Whether you are buying from a store/farmers market or growing it in a raised bed like myself, it needs to be washed thoroughly before you do anything with it. As I cut my basil from the stalks I was putting it right into a colander, stems and all, in order to cut down on the amount of potential dishes I would have to deal with later. The other plus was once done with collecting basil, I was able to put the colander right into the sink and start rinsing any dirt and gross nature off the leaves.
After a thorough cleansing, I put paper towel at the bottom of a container, began picking leaves off the stems and dropped them right into said container. Once the leaves were in the container, I covered them with another paper towel to dry them. One of the keys to the herb infused oil is the herbs must be dry. I discarded the paper towels and recovered the basil in a fresh towel to let them completely dry over night.
The next day, I emptied the basil into a mortar and ground them with a pestle in order to bruise them.
The recipe I was using had a hot and a cold method and seeing as the steps after combining the herbs and oil were the same, I’m going with the cold and less complicated route hence the reason I’m only bruising the basil.
Once I was satisfied with their state I dropped them into the Mason jar and poured the olive oil over them and left about a half inch from the top of the jar because I wanted to make sure I had enough room to shake the jar as instructed.
After tightening the lid, the oil and basil has to sit for about two weeks with a good shake at least once a day.
That’s where I’m at right now. The two have been hanging out in the jar for about three days and once ready I’ll have to separate the oil and the basil via a strainer. I’ll likely bottle it and save it for my roasted chicken and turkey.
This seems foolproof. If I fail, I need to sort out my priorities and reflect on why it turned out terrible.