This recipe was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, Dec. 23, 2004.|
Four truffle recipes
TRUFFLED PASTA: In my first experiment, I chose a starkly simple pasta dish. While spaghetti for two was boiling in salted water, I cut one truffle into tiny dice and measured out 2 tablespoons of French butter. I drained the finished pasta, tossed it with the butter and minced truffles over low heat just until the butter melted, then added salt to taste and served. The all but neutral background of pasta and butter showcased the truffle's subtly earthy flavors beautifully, and it made a natural match with Mountain Dome 2001 "Pleasant Prairie" Crystal Pheasant Vineyard Pinot Noir from Washington State.
TRUFFLED OMELET: For my second truffle outing, I went with eggs, which are considered a classic accompaniment. Again keeping things very simple so as to avoid upstaging the truffles, I used four eggs - including the two that had been stored for several days in the truffle jar - to make a very simple, classic French omelet flavored only with salt and pepper and a tablespoon of crème fraïche, stirring one finely minced truffle into the lightly whisked eggs and cooking it quickly in fresh butter over high heat. It was delicious, and would have made a fine match with a drisp, dry white or fruity red; we had a dessert-wine tasting scheduled, so passed on wine with dinner.
ROAST CHICKEN: On the next night I tried using the truffles as a flavor accent in a more substantial dish, "butterflying" a free-range chicken to roast under high heat (starting at 450F and throttling back to 350F when the smoke detectors went off). Before roasting, I sliced a truffle into about a dozen paper-thin rounds and carefully, neatly tucked them under the breast skin on both sides. After roasting, the truffle rounds themselves were delicately earthy and delicious and gave a hint of their subtle aromas to the adjacent breast meat and skin, although I can't claim that the whole bird was suffused with truffle flavor. The chicken and truffles were stunning with both of two good Pinot-based sparkling wines being tasted for future columns, a pricey rosé Brut Champagne and the good-value Gruet Blanc de Noirs Brut from New Mexico.
TRUFFLED RISOTTO MILANESE: One truffle remained on the fourth night, and its fate was obvious: A truffle-scented risotto, made using the rice in which the truffles had nested for the past week. At first I thought about making the simplest possible version, made with stock, butter and rice and no other flavoring but truffle. On second thought, though, I decided that the truffle ought to march in perfect time with the more nuanced but still delicate flavors of a classic risotto Milanese, enhanced with a bit of sweet onion, a dash of saffron, an ounce of grated Parmigiano and plenty of butter, with the finely minced truffle stirred in to cook for only the last minute or two. It was a truly great risotto, and it made a fine match with the leftover Champagne, which had lost none of its fizz after a night in the fridge. (More about that in another column soon.)