I’m happy to say that I don’t need to travel too far for my truffles

I’m happy to say that I don’t need to travel too far for my truffles

02-10-2021Marc Fosh

Some years ago, my obsession with truffles caused a bit of a stir on an airplane. I had travelled to France in search of buried treasure, to meet a man who had dedicated his whole life to the pursuit of fresh truffles. After meeting the man and his dog, I carefully inspected the black beauties and handed over a king’s ransom for twenty-four amazing, aromatic, fresh truffles.

I had spent so much money there was no way I was going to let them out of my sight, so I packed them neatly into my hand luggage and headed back to the airport.

It was a very cold afternoon and I was confident that no one would notice the hidden treasure in my bag. I managed to get through security without a problem, but ten minutes into our flight, when the heating really started to kick in, a slight smell started wafting around the cabin.

Pretty soon, the whole plane was filled with the heavy aroma that Gareth Renowden once described in The Truffle Book as resembling “old socks and sex”! After the cabin crew received several complaints from other passengers, I had no choice but to hold my hand up and confess that it was the contents of my hand luggage that was causing offence... some people don’t appreciate a culinary jewel when they smell one.

These days, I’m happy to say that I don’t need to travel too far for my truffles, as I have another guy with a dog who hunts them in the mountains of Mallorca.

There are many different varieties of truffle, but the most pocket-friendly are summer truffles (Tuber aestivum) that come into season from April to September. They have a rough black exterior and brown flesh mottled with white veins. Summer truffles have a delicate but distinctive aroma and are ideal for canapés, pasta sauces, eggs, potatoes, rice or meat and fish dishes.

Black winter truffles (Tuber melanosporum) are available from november to March and have a distinctive and powerful aroma. You can find white truffles from november to February, and they have a golden exterior with delicate cream-coloured flesh and a strong, musky, slightly garlicky aroma.

They are almost never cooked but are usually consumed fresh, typically by being shaved into paper-thin slices over pasta, risotto or salad.

If you buy fresh truffles, store them in the fridge and use within a week. A lot of cooks choose to preserve truffles in uncooked rice grains. The rice grains protect the natural moisture in the truffles, while preventing them from getting too damp. The truffles, in turn, add their amazing flavour to the rice, which will produce a decadent, heavenly, creamy risotto.

Black truffles, sage and pecorino risotto

Cooking time: 20 minutes
Preparation time:10 minutes

Serves 4–6

  • 900ml/31fl oz/scant 4 cups chicken stock (bouillon)
  • 30g/1oz/1⁄4 stick butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 350g/12oz arborio or carnaroli risotto rice
  • 1 tsp chopped sage leaves
  • 100ml/31⁄2fl oz/scant 1⁄2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp mascarpone
  • 1 tsp truffle oil
  • 2 tbsp grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1⁄2 tsp olive oil fresh black truffle, for shaving
    (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock (bouillon) to a simmer.

2 In a separate heavy saucepan over a medium heat, heat the butter until melted, then add the onion and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, until the onion has softened. Stir in the rice and sage leaves, then add the wine and cook, stirring, until fully absorbed. Add enough of the hot chicken stock to just cover the rice. Continue to stir until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Continue to add the stock gradually, stirring continuously, until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice has softened, about 15 further minutes.

3 Add the mascarpone, truffle oil and grated Pecorino and season to taste. The risotto should be light and creamy. Stir in the olive oil and serve immediately, topped with freshly grated truffle, if desired.

Papardelle with lobster,truffle and chives

Cooking time: 10–12 minutes (depending on pasta)
Preparation time: 10 minutes

Serves 4

  • 300g/101⁄2oz pappardelle pasta
  • 1 x 750g/1lb 10oz cooked lobster 50g/13⁄4oz/scant 1⁄2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup double (heavy)
    cream
  • 1 tsp tomato purée (paste)
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • 200g/7oz Parmesan, freshly grated
  • 1 black truffle (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 It really doesn’t get any more decadent or more delicious than lobster and truffle! You can substitute the pappardelle for almost any kind of fresh pasta.

2 Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the pappardelle pasta until al dente (check the instructions on your packet for cooking time).

3 Meanwhile, cut the lobster in half and crack the claws open. Remove the meat from the shell and cut into chunks.

heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over a low- medium heat, add the garlic, then stir in the cream and the tomato purée (paste). Simmer for about 2 minutes, until reduced and thickened. Drain the cooked pasta.

4 Add to the sauce along with the lobster meat, tossing to coat in the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving bowl and scatter over the chopped chives and freshly grated Parmesan. Finally, grate over the black truffle to taste and serve immediately.

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