Prized for their pungent and earthy yet delicate aroma, Truffles are considered one of the world’s finest ingredients, famously called “the diamonds of the kitchen.” To highlight a Truffle’s flavor, Truffles are generally prepared simply, and a little bit often goes a long way, towards making a meal extraordinary. Here are some ideas on how to pair truffles with food and your favorite wine.
What is a truffle?
A truffle is a subterranean fungus that grows in the shadow of trees around the world. Grown underground, truffles are a prized treasure and have been regarded as a gem of the culinary world. Truffles are known for their natural aroma that can wow the senses of any human (or animal) that comes in contact with it. Rich in umami, truffles are revered by chefs from different cultures and used in a variety of cuisines. Black truffles are available for six to nine months out of the year and have a stronger and more earthy flavor than that of delicate white truffles. Black truffles are far more common, thus less expensive than white truffles. On the other hand, white truffles are regarded as “Earth’s gold.” White truffles have a lesser likelihood of being found, a shorter season–about three to four month a year (September- January)–and a short shelf-life. While black truffles can be frozen, white truffles cannot and only have a shelf life of about 10 days. While European truffles are regarded as the most common and best tasting, the production of North American truffles has increased over the years, mostly on the West Coast.
What do Truffles taste like?
Truffles are utterly intoxicating, said the BBC; a heady scent that if you find yourself hooked will turn you a bit googly-eyed at just the mention of it, like the cologne of someone you fancy, or your clothes after the best Bonfire Night bash ever.
Imagine, that deep musky fragrance of a brand-new leather jacket. Now add garlic. Not raw or roasted but just softened slowly and lovingly in a whole heap of butter. Finally, yes, OK, they’re a bit mushroomy but on the rich, damp, autumn leaves side of things, not that forgotten jar of dried porcini.
Seasonal Guide to Truffles:
– French Périgord: “black diamonds” with nutty, loamy scent
– Italian Black Winter: notes of cocoa, pepper and wet earth
– Italian Black Summer: Mild, porcini-like flavor
– Australian Black Winter: same variety as French Perigord
– Italian Black Burgundy: intense, hazelnut-like aroma
– White Italian: highly prized and always used raw to best savor potent musky, earthy flavors
So what to pair with this delicious delicacy?
Truffles infuse their flavor to whatever they are cooked with, which makes them the perfect star of the dish. Truffles should not be cooked with other strong flavors and aromas, or the prized truffle flavor will be lost. Typically paired with foie gras, butter, cream, cheese and oils, fatty foods work great and help bring the full flavor out. Less flavorful foods like pasta, rice and potatoes are perfect compliments to bring out the truffle flavor. Because truffles are so expensive, it is important to maximize the flavor while using the least amount of truffle as possible. Truffles can be shaved, slivered, and sliced to give your dish the fragrant truffle flavor you desire.
Pairing Truffle Recipes with Wine:
– Wine: Aged wines with earthy and mushroom notes work well with the savory flavor of truffles
– Common dish: Truffle risotto calls for bolder, creamier wines like lightly oaked Chardonnay
– Avoid light, fruity whites and red wines like: Pinot Grigio, Shiraz, Zinfandel & Malbec
– Eggs: Shave over eggs scrambled in butter
– Pasta and Rice dishes: great cooked into cream sauces such as “alfredo,” or in traditional risottos
– Chicken: Black Truffle slivers can be inserted beneath the skin of chicken before roasting
– Fish: Truffle slices can be wrapped around firm-bodied fish
– Can be paired with cheese- aged Gouda or fine Chevre
– Classic Combo: Paired with beef, pork, bacon, pancetta, venison, etc.
– You will lose flavor and aroma if cooked or heated. White truffles raw are best.
– Serve thin slices or shavings over risotto, pasta, eggs, salads and in sauces
– Meat: veal, rabbit, salami, proscuitto and hard Italian cheeses
Truffle Recipe Ideas:
Braised Short Ribs with Truffle Polenta and Empire Apple Compote: https://www.jamesbeard.org/recipes/braised-short-ribs-with-truffle-polenta-and-empire-apple-compote
Spaghetti with White Miso Egg Yolks Bay Scallops and Black Truffles: https://www.jamesbeard.org/recipes/spaghetti-with-white-miso-egg-yolks-bay-scallops-and-black-truffles
Truffle Ricotta Panna Cotta with Lamb’s Lettuce: https://www.jamesbeard.org/recipes/trufflericotta-panna-cotta-with-lambs-lettuce