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Tag: truffle

truffle shavings

Of cooking with a truffle

As you might remember, I have transported a jar of rice (with a truffle in it) from Strasbourg to Karlsruhe to Portsmouth with me. W’s dad is so into cooking it has actually been a little hard to push for a meal WE can cook!

fresh truffle shavings

Today though, we managed to negotiate for a lunch spot, so it was obvious that we were going to finally use the truffle. I had spent a good deal of time figuring out what would be the best way to use it. I wanted something easy and simple, yet hearty as it was to feed five people. I also wanted it to be sort-of foolproof, without too many bells or whistles – as truffle on its own is already rather exotic – ideally something that doesn’t require acquired tastebuds. Compared to other truffle types, such as Black truffles (French Périgord) and White truffles (Italian Piémontese), which practically need to be consumed raw, Meuse truffle puts up well with heat and cooking. However, I wanted to rather enjoy the raw taste of the product.

I decided to go with a truffle risotto – by just topping the delicious risotto with thin shavings of raw truffle. Risotto is such a basic, beautiful thing, filling and hearty, yet serves as base for a variety of other complex flavours.

I was still a little worried about having stored the truffle in rice, but upon taking it out from the rice jar, the truffle seemed to be in perfect condition and was still strongly scented and very aromatic when I shaved off a sliver to taste it.

A simpler than simple risotto for showcasing the flavour/aroma of a Meuse truffle:

You need:

  • Risotto rice
  • Olive oil
  • Salty butter (50-70g)
  • Vermouth (preferably) or white wine
  • Finely diced onion (shallots or normal ones, 2-3 according to taste)
  • Finely chopped garlic (to taste)
  • Finely chopped celery (which we didn’t have as we forgot to buy some – but it belongs to the perfect basic risotto recipe)
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 liter stock, approximately (chicken or vegetable, for example – though I would definitely recommend home made stock but sometimes you have to rely on stock cubes – like we did here)
  • Parmesan or other flavoursome hard cheese, plenty of it
  • Truffle (obviously)
  • Parsley to garnish

1. Heat the stock in a pot. In another pan, heat the olive oil and butter, add the onions, garlic and celery, and stir them until soft, careful to not let them brown or burn. Turn up the heat and add the rice.

2. This is when you can’t leave the stove for even a few seconds. Keep stirring the rice, so it doesn’t get any colour on it. Pretty soon the rice will start to look slightly translucent. This is your cue to throw in the vermouth or the white wine – all the while keeping the rice moving at all times. The rice will suck up the wine quite quickly – keep the rice moving and breathe in the wonderful aromas.

3. Once the rice has sucked up the liquid, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. The secret of good risotto is to keep it slowly simmering, so the rice cooks evenly throughout. If kept boiling on too much heat, the risotto will cook way too much from the outside, but the grains will have a hard core. So: turn down the heat to a simmer and keep slowly adding ladlefuls of stock. Stir and turn thoroughly, and allow all the liquid to be absorbed in the rice body before the next. After 15-20 minutes, check if the rice is cooked and if the seasoning is balanced. If not, keep adding the stock in the similar manner. When ready, the rice should be soft and lovely, but with a bite – we’re not trying to make porridge! Taste the rice — is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and parmesan (or equivalent). Allow the risotto to sit under a lid for a couple of minutes. This will let all the liquid and flavours to really set and results in a wonderfully creamy, perfect risotto.

5. Eat.

For this truffle risotto and serving – we just shaved some thin truffle slices, chopped parsley and a pinch of black pepper on top of the risotto. Ta-daa!

It was delicious.

I also generally try to be economic in my cooking: as little leftovers as possible and maximise repurposing – be it boiling bones and vegetable cut offs for stocks, or making truffle oil with the leftover truffle! We chopped – extremely finely – the end of the truffle we could no longer use for the risotto and put it in a jar with extra virgin olive oil. It needs from a few days to a week to properly infuse it.  Works great with pasta and salads. Another possibility is making truffle salt: also chopping it fine and mixing it with rough sea salt, himalayan salt, etc. Seal it in a jar for some days so the truffle bits emit their remaining aromas in the salt. Enjoy with everything.

(A tip from a friend: for super fancy margaritas, use truffle salt to salt the rim of your margarita glass. I hear it’s insanely good.)

Of storing truffles

I bought a Meuse truffle (also called Lorraine truffle, Mésentérique Truffle, or Bagnoli Truffle) from Strasbourg Christmas market. The Christmas market is so big, it has been spread across the city and the one in Place des meuniers is built around local products and delicacies. Oui.

So, I’m generally not the one to buy expensive or extravagant food items but when visiting a truffle region, it’s easy access and still (relatively, sort of) affordable. Also, even small amounts of truffle go a long way, so you don’t need to bust your budget to try it out.

I have only really eaten truffle once before and it was years ago. I think it was a Périgord style black truffle. I recall it being very tasty. So, I was quite intrigued by this Meuse truffle.

It has wonderfully strong though quite bizarre and peculiar smell: it’s intriguing and intoxicating, the kind you want to keep sniffing to figure it out and still can’t pinpoint exactly what it smells like. (I googled it though and it’s supposed to smell like “bitter almonds or apricot kernels”.)

A fresh, black truffle

Fresh truffles store for approximately one month if properly conserved in a cool environment. There are other ways to conserve them for longer, but they are the kind of special sorcery not featured here. However, storing truffles is a wonderful process to follow through in itself: the eggs, rice or salt used for conserving are flavoured by the truffle during the process and carry the rich aroma with them.

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