I have been curious about truffles for a long time, but I have never laid hands on a fresh truffle. I have tried various truffle-infused oils, but they have always been disappointing – to say the least.
I spotted this recipe in Claudia Roden’s ‘The Food Of Italy: Region by Region’ and I had to try it, so I tracked down a jar of minced white truffle online. It was expensive, but worth every penny.
I have made this three times in recent weeks, the jar of minced truffles that I bought was big enough to make ten servings and once opened it will only keep for a short time, with a layer of oil to protect the exposed truffle, in the fridge. Each time I have made it, tweaking as I go, it has got better.
It turns out that there is a very good reason why truffles are highly prized: they are delicious. Describing the taste is impossible, but I have see them described as musky and earthy, and that fits well. This is the basic recipe, but you could easily add some lightly fried mushrooms – fried in the butter and oil in the recipe below – or some chopped black olives tossed in at the end. The next time I make it I will try some black garlic with it, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
RECIPE serves 4
60g unsalted butter
a generous glug of best-quality olive oil (not extra-virgin)
40g grated Parmesan
a grating of nutmeg
300g tagliatelle or fettuccini pasta
several teaspoons of minced truffle, taste as you go and add more if you need to. OR, if you are lucky enough to get hold of a truffle – especially the more aromatic white kind – shave it thinly and stir it through the finished dish
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, until al dente.
Meanwhile, gently melt the butter in the oil, then finely grate in a little nutmeg – about a third of a nut – and set aside for a few minutes.
Finely grate the Parmesan, and crush the garlic.
Drain the pasta, but not too thoroughly. Leave a little cooking water on the pasta to help the sauce. Toss the pasta with the nutmeg-infused oil and the Parmesan, then add the truffle and garlic with a generous grinding of black pepper. The garlic goes in raw and will cook only very slightly in the sauce. It will give you breath issues the next day, but it’s worth it – the combination of flavours is amazing.
Serve alongside a simple green salad.