How to make a stable cream sauce

Rather than add copious amounts of butter and double cream and reduce (which a lot of cooks recommend,) try to restrain them: use single whipping cream instead (35% milkfat, no thickening gelatine) and firm up the sauce using cornflour + water mixtures. Mix thoroughly on a light simmer, and it will hold stable throughout the meal, in the fridge, and into the microwave for reheating leftovers the next day. Just don’t boil the sauce or make your cornflour and water paste too dry, you will get lumps in either case. It looks much more appetising than a demulsified buttersauce.

Spaghetti, scallops and prawns in a stable cream sauce


  • 500g dried spaghetti
  • 500g shucked dry scallops (wet scallops are larger, whiter, and injected with phosphates and water. Dry scallops have an ‘iced peach’ sort of colour, are smaller and more expensive, but are overall nicer.)
  • 1kg tiger/banana/king prawns, shelled and deveined (equates to around 450–500g prawn meat)
  • 250g streaky bacon, cut into 2cm squares
  • 2tbsp baby capers, rinsed of their vinegar
  • Half a medium-sized butternut squash, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, cut into 2cm rings and then quartered
  • Pick one of:
    • A handful of lemonthyme
    • Zest of a lemon and a handful of thyme
    • Zest of a lemon and a handful of fennel top
    • Zest of a lemon and a handful of Dill
  • 25g butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 2 long red chillies, seeds scraped and finely diced
  • 300ml single cream
  • 2–3tbsp cornflour
  • a dash of water
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper


  1. Marinate the scallops and prawns in some extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, possible lemon zest, and your herb of choice;
  2. Put a large stockpot to boil with 5 litres of water;
  3. After at least 30 minutes of marinating, put a pan to high heat (Teflon-coated [PTFE] pans at this heat will be carcinogenic, so use something else);
  4. Separating the scallops from the prawns, sear the scallops, in nicely spaced-apart batches, for 1 minute on each side, and no longer, removing each finished batch to a covered dish in an oven heated to 100°C;
  5. Sear the prawns, also nicely spaced-apart batches, for 1.5–2 minutes on each side, then keep warm with the scallops;
  6. Add 40g of salt to the water, wait for reboil, then add pasta, pumpkin and zucchini;
  7. After 3 minutes, use a skimmer to remove the pumpkin and zucchini, refreshing them in cold water, leaving the pasta to cook to packet instructions;
  8. In another pan, heat to medium and fry the bacon for 3 minutes (no oil or any additives);
  9. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for another 3 minutes;
  10. Add the butter and allow it to melt and fry for 1 minute;
  11. Add the cream and while it comes to a simmer, mix a little water with the cornflour to a milky consistency, then add to the pan;
  12. Stir until the sauce is getting towards the right consistency, then add pumpkin, zucchini, scallops and prawns and allow to warm through;
  13. Add salt and pepper to taste, and once everything is warmed through nicely, turn off the heat and stir through the baby capers;
  14. Turn out the pasta and serve with sauce on top.

Serves 6–8.

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