Inspired by Chef Dustin Trani: Truffle Scented Tortellini, Veal Reduction

Truffle Scented Tortellini, Veal Reduction
Truffle Scented Tortellini, Veal Reduction
Beech Mushrooms, Olive Oil Toasted Bread Crumbs, Crispy Sage Leaves

Chef Dustin J. Trani is the Executive Chef at J. Trani’s Ristorante in San Pedro as well as DOMA in Beverly Hills. Earlier this year, Chef Trani was well-deservedly named as one of the Top 5 Rising Chefs in the U.S. by Gayot Magazine. On June 6th J.Trani’s Ristorante hosted their first wine dinner.

It was an extraordinary meal. With nearly three decades of dining in San Pedro, I can confidently declare that this meal was the best served in our town. Ever. Chef Trani paired a five course menu with wines from Napa Valley’s Franciscan Estates. Every element of every dish had a purpose, each in perfect balance. He deftly orchestrated a symphony of wine and food. It was an absolute pleasure to experience the Chef”s passion and commitment to perfection first hand.

My version of the Chef’s pasta course is simplified, to say the least. Where the Chef studied pasta making in Italy, I bought packaged cheese tortellini from Trader Joe’s. Where undoubtedly, the Chef simmered his veal stock in an hours-long process, I purchased French Demi-Glace from Whole Foods Market. My recipe is an everyday version of that extraordinary plate served at the outstanding wine dinner.

J. Trani’s Ristorante Wine Dinner

j. trani's restaurant

Fifty-three guests enjoyed the casual yet sophisticated ambiance of the upstairs banquet room, softly lit and dressed in white linens. Guests mingled over the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc with its lively aromas of lime zest and lemon grass, and balanced citrusy flavors. The Chef paired this wine with his first course, a Dungeness Crab Cake over Burrata with a roasted pepper emulsion. At this point we already knew we were in for a treat.

J. Trani's Wine Dinner

Chef Trani’s second course was a delightful presentation of smoked duck carpaccio adorned with petite frisee, pistachio, feta, and a divine blackberry vinaigrette. The team expertly paired the Franciscan Chardonnay 2011 with this dish. The Chardonnay’s apple, vanilla, and spice notes harmonized perfectly with the smoked duck course.

In addition to superb food and wine, the evening was fun! Tables were set for eight people so guests were able to get to know their table-mates throughout the evening. Needless to say it was a vivacious affair. Between courses, the Chef and the Wine Specialist would have to quiet the room to share highlights of the upcoming courses.

Trani's Tortellini & Franciscan Merlot

Trani, in the kitchen by age 5 and trained by his father and grandfather, went to Belbo, Italy after college where he studied pasta making at Guido da Costigliole. Supple and layered, with flavors of ripe berries, bing cherries, cocoa and sweet vanilla the Merlot 2009 paired elegantly with his third course, a Truffle Scented Mascarpone Tortellini dressed with a rich veal reduction, beech mushrooms, and crispy bread crumbs and fried sage. This course was powerful in its simplicity.

Trani's Lamb

When the wine enhances the flavors of the food and the food simultaneously enhances the characteristics of the wine the result is a stellar match, an exceptional wine pairing. This was completely evident in the fourth course, Grilled Colorado Lamb Chop with Vanilla Poached Butternut Squash. Melt-in-the-mouth lamb cracklings, micro arugula, and a lamb reduction completed the dish. Franciscan Estates Magnificat 2007, a seamless red Bordeaux blend named after Johann Sebastian Bach’s 1723 musical masterpiece was the highlight. With complex flavors of dark berries, mocha, and sage and a long luxurious finish, Franciscan’s Magnificat and Trani’s Lamb made for a brilliant composition.

Chef Dustin J. Trani

The finale was heavenly – imported Italian Gorgonzola Dolce topped with Moscato Poached Pear. Artistically adorned with petite midnight basil, bacon and amaretti cookie dust, pear and moscato reduction.

Gorgonzola Dolce & Poached Pear

Dessert was served with Inniskillin Icewine from Canada. The Vidal grape hybrid yields intense flavors from the frozen-on-the-vine process resulting in a nectar reminiscent of marmalade with bacon sugar. The meal could not have ended on a sweeter note. Thank you, Chef!

My Interpretation of Chef Trani’s Pasta Course


Truffle Scented Tortellini, Veal Reduction
Beech Mushrooms, Olive Oil toasted Bread Crumbs, Crispy Sage Leaves

Truffle Scented Tortellini, Veal Reduction

  • Cheese Tortellini
  • Beech Mushrooms, Stems Trimmed
  • White Truffle Oil
  • Veal Demi-Glace
  • Fresh Sage Leaves
  • Fresh Bread Crumbs
  • Olive Oil

Truffle Scented Tortellini Recipe
Fry whole sage leaves in olive oil until crispy, about one to two minutes. Remove sage from oil and drain on paper towels. Add breadcrumbs to the same oil and saute until crispy and golden brown.

Cook tortellini according to package instructions. Cook beech mushrooms in simmering water for five minutes. Drain. Add mushrooms to the cooked pasta, toss with white truffle oil. (My favorite brand is from my friends at Gourmet Attitude in NYC). Season with a little sea salt.

Tortellini, Veal Reduction

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan combine one part demi-glace with four parts water. Bring to a light simmer and whisk to form a sauce that coats the back of a spoon, about six minutes.

Plate the pasta-mushroom mixture. Drizzle with veal reduction. Finish with bread crumbs and sage leaves.

Tortellini Bite
Enjoy with Merlot…

11 thoughts on “Inspired by Chef Dustin Trani: Truffle Scented Tortellini, Veal Reduction”

  1. Oh my, but this is a feast worthy of Lucullus himself. What a divine evening. And your dish is absolutely spectacular. You have elevated home cooking to the level of fine dining. Complimenti!

  2. What a superb dinner! I sure would have liked to have a seat at one of those tables of 8.
    And it was very nice of you to break down and present one of the dishes in a very accessible manner which I’m sure many people will appreciate who can’t get to Chef Trani’s restaurant.

  3. Thank you for telling and showing us about an evening 99.99% of us would not have been able to attend . . .

  4. What an evening! Chefs like this just blow me away! They’re genius! Your adaptation of the pasta dish looks quite genius itself. Definitely a chef’s dish. I just bought a bottle of that truffle oil you are showing there, so it’s a sign that maybe I should give your wonderful dish a try. 🙂

  5. This looks … oh, where do I start?? So, so good. And you realize that practically everything you make could suit the colors challenge? Meanwhile I struggle, lol …

    1. Thanks Trix – It was so good, and easy too! I didn’t realize how much I cook with color in mind. And believe it or not, I picked the easiest color for the challenge, it is green, working on it today. With a spinach-poached egg… Can’t wait to see your creation.

    2. Thanks Trix – It was so good, and easy too! I didn’t realize how much I cook with color in mind. And believe it or not, I picked the easiest color for the challenge, it is green, working on it today. With a spinach-poached egg… Can’t wait to see your creation.

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