The Real Truffle Hunters Ltd

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The Beginner’s Guide to Cooking with Truffles

It is reassuring to know that although finding truffles is pretty tricky, actually cooking with truffles is easy and well within the range of all home cooks. Great meals do not have to be complicated and you can make a very impressive dish without any stress if you know how to make the truffle flavour do the work for you. The first step to cooking well with this ingredient is especially simple and it is the unique way we use storage to our advantage.

One of the many very strange things about truffles is what happens when you put them in your fridge. Their dominant smell will take over. Everything in there will become infused with truffle – your milk, your cheese, your cheesecake, even your eggs. Anything with a high fat content is particularly at risk of taking on a truffle flavour. This is because the volatile compounds that make up what we know as the truffle smell, bond with fat molecules.

From a cooking perspective, this is where things get exciting- we are going to use flip the problem of aroma contamination so that it works in our favour. This means that the process of cooking with truffles starts by storing truffles with the ingredients that they pair well with. This technique will give greater depth of truffle flavour to your dish as you are using pre-infused components. So in the box where I store truffles I will also keep eggs, cream, cheese, some oil – anything I am going to cook them with. The one thing to avoid is rice because this tends to dry the truffle out especially over a couple of days.

So that was our first principles of cooking with truffles. Infusion is your friend. Storing truffles with their fellow ingredients will stretch their flavour so you are getting better value. Don’t forget that truffles will keep for about week in the fridge at standard fridge temperatures, that is 3/4 C or 37/39 F. Don’t let them come into contact with ice and never freeze them. We keep them individually wrapped in paper. This helps extend their life as truffles give off moisture from the moment they are out of the ground. Wrapping them helps prevent them from drying out. Be careful though because you don’t want to expose truffles to excess moisture either and these papers will get damp. When they become too wet, you need to swap the papers out for fresh ones.

When you are ready to use them, soak your black truffles for 10 minutes and then scrub them- peeling is a sin. Wash white truffles under cold running water. Make sure you get earth out of all the crevices.

Cooking truffles.

Truffles should not be exposed to a lot of heat. This means that truffles are added at the end of the cooking process, let’s say you were making a soup or a sauce. Or else they are shaved over the top of the finished dish. The very expensive white winter truffles should not be cooked at all, whereas the black truffles and US truffles can handle gentle cooking. All the same, don’t overdo it . For example, I would cook black truffles in my omelette but sautéing them in butter like you would with mushrooms? That would be too much.

Probably my favourite way to us truffles is with good quality eggs. Truffles and eggs are the perfect match, omelettes, scrambled, on top of boiled, fried or poached eggs. If you would like to make a special breakfast, try this. Toast with homemade bread, spread the toast with truffle butter and top your scrambled eggs with plenty of shaved or finely grated truffle.

When made with white truffle this fabulous meal is called millionaire’s breakfast.

Truffles bond really well dairy, so cream and butter are great companions. Cheese can work well too but mild cheeses, avoid anything strong like gorgonzola. Truffles go really well in a cream sauce to serve with pasta or a cheese sauce for something like a cheese macaroni. Cream cheese with grated truffle could be the base of a decadent starter and enables a little truffle to go a long way. You can serve this truffle cream cheese with fresh baked bread or some little crackers or have it as a dip for bread sticks. You could finish off a meal with some good quality dairy ice cream drizzled with truffle honey! I know it sound sounds weird but try it before you knock it.

If you don’t want to use dairy products, then consider a combination of truffles and meat, particularly beef. I love to throw some truffle butter on a good quality steak and then shave more truffles on the top. Serve with garlic mushrooms and truffled potatoes and you can’t go wrong. I make a lot of truffles burgers too . Again you can add truffles to the burger patty mixture for extra depth of flavour. If you prefer poultry, truffles pair perfectly with chicken. Try putting truffles under the chicken skin as a fancy marinade and then truffles get shaved over the top, you could make a truffle gravy or cream sauce to go with your chicken if you want to take that to the next level.

Truffles and carbs go really well provided there is some fat in the dish too. So a great rice dish would be a risotto because you are adding parmesan and butter. I think they work well with baked or roast potatoes, truffle butter and fresh truffle grated over the top. Then of course pasta dishes, the rule here is not to get carried away with the sauce. Don’t start adding smoky bacon and whatever you are inspired by in your kitchen cabinet, this will lead to overpowering the truffle. And what about bread? Truffle butter on toast combines comfort and decadence. You can also put truffles on pizza, but they should be shaved on top after it has come out of the oven. It should also be a pizza without tomato sauce.

Truffles and vegetables and pulses. If it has an earthy flavour it usually pairs nicely with truffles. As well as the standard mushrooms, you can experiment with roasted root vegetables and cauliflower. I also serve them with artichokes and I think it is the perfect combination. As a vegan option I make chickpea and truffle soup which is always very popular. As for herbs, don’t go overboard, but sage and thyme complement truffles. And did I mention that garlic does too?

Making truffle products.

Store bought truffle products will inevitably have some kinds of flavouring added. If this is something you would like to avoid then do read the small print. Most people don’t enjoy being ripped off and the truffle industry is notorious for doing just this. Have a look at the list of ingredients on products you intend to buy. You will usually find that the amount of actual truffle used is minimal. You are being charged an arm and a leg for a mouthful of cheap, synthetic truffle flavor. If you would prefer something more natural, it is simple to make truffle butters and oils at home. Although keep in mind that there is a fairly short sell-by date. We make truffle pastes, truffle oil, truffle honey and truffle salt is also popular. There are several recipes on the site or on our YouTube channel.Frozen truffles are a bad idea as they will turn to mush.

As you can see, this is not a definitive list of how to use truffles and I am speaking in general terms as there are different species of truffles with varying flavour profiles. So these are just some of the most common pairing options to get you started. There are a few things to bear in mind if you intend to experiment – do not use competing flavours with truffles, avoid acid, no tomatoes and strong flavours like olives which will drown out the truffle. And that’s it..if there is anything you would like to add to this list of ways to enjoy truffles, please share your ideas or recipes in the comments.

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