Is there any other “fungus” that is more revered than the black truffle? Or more misunderstood? With its heady scent and sublime flavor, it’s no wonder truffles are called “black diamonds”. The history, lore and hunt of the humble truffle is truly amazing. It was fascinating to speak with Patricia Wells about them. Her latest book explores every aspect of the truffle and offers recipes from Truffle Risotto with Parmesan Broth to Pecorino-Romano and Truffle Pizza.
A parasite that grows on the roots of trees, the homely truffle looks a like shriveled black nugget about the size of a walnut. There are more than 100 truffle varieties, but only a handful are used for cooking. Found largely in France, with smaller harvests in Italy and Spain, truffles are harvested November to March, with peak flavor- and best price- in January.
If you can’t make your way to a truffle hunt anytime soon, here are some online resources:
Patricia suggests placing a cleaned fresh truffle in a glass jar with several eggs, still in their shells. Secure it tightly. The truffle flavor will infuse right in to the egg, for truly amazing omelets, crepes or pasta. Another easy way to indulge is a smear of truffle butter on a piece of really good bread. Enjoy Patricia’s recipe for truffle butter from her book, Simply Truffles.
“One needs only a few tablespoons of minced fresh truffles to create an all-purpose, fragrant butter, perfect for spreading on toast, melting into fresh pasta, or folding into a risotto. You can use the butter freshly made, or you can freeze it and use it throughout the year for added truffle pleasure.”
1. Place the butter on a large plate. Sprinkle with the truffle peelings and mash with a fork to blend. Transfer to the jar. Tighten the lid.
2. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months. Serve at room temperature or melted, as necessary.
EQUIPMENT: A small jar with a lid.
1 tablespoon (6 g) minced fresh black truffle peelings
4 tablespoons (2 ounces; 60 g) salted butter, softened
to you by Amy Tobin
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