DIY black Perigord truffle feast

by Forager on September 7, 2011

A friend of mine owns a truffle farm – do you want some truffles?

So said the Chi Master, a good friend and former colleague that I’d worked with for about 2 years. Did I want truffles – what sort of stupid question is that? And more importantly, what’s this about a truffle farm? Two years of working together and he’d not mentioned hair nor hide of said truffle farm. Only when he’s left the building does he mention this! Outrageous. Of course I wanted truffles. And I’ll take as many as you can spare thank you very much.

Before I physically received my own precious cargo, over the course of a week, the Chi Master slowly taunted me with pictures of what he’d subjected his own truffles to. So impressed and deliriously excited was I that I asked him to write up his experience in a guest post, the first for my blog. Below is his delicious account of his truffling.

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There’s something magical and slightly intriguing about the perigord truffle, something inexplicably alluring and mysterious. For me the first experience with a truffle was in the ubiquitous oil form. Over warm pizza or dripped into soups, the smell is as inviting and comforting as an old friend. It truly has to hold a special place in the sensory bank, squirrelled away to jostle shoulders with the other memories of simmering stew or baked bread. But my first encounter with the actual fungi was in Florence, with one of the best steaks I’ve ever put knife to (and that’s a lot of steaks). The steak was liberally baptised with Tuscan olive oil, simply seasoned with salt and pepper then buried under an avalanche of truffle slices. The truffles had a fine striation of white lines I can only describe as brain like.  The flavor however, was incomparable to the artificial oil. Ozoney, earthy, soily, ‘shroomy, mouth filling and perfumed were probably the most apt descriptions.

I knew I was hooked.

A few months  ago during a bitterly cold and wet winter, I was perusing Facebook when I came across some intriguing pictures. A friend of mine was nose deep in dirt, scrabbling around the scrawniest, whippiest tree you could find and unearthing mounds of incredible black nuggets piled high atop each other. He had pictures of freshly unearthed truffles, freshly cleaned truffles, freshly sliced truffles and a grin wider than Garfield. I suppose it’s not every day that you discover someone you’ve known for years is affiliated with a truffle farm. Then again, if I had one I’d probably keep quiet about it too. I suppose I can thank social networking for leading me to the fortuitous exchange that found me with 2 perigords in my possession.

Like a clandestine drug mule, I watched my friend drive up discreetly in front of my office. With a wry smile, he ushered me to a small esky where several small plastic airtight pouches were within. My senses were doing their best to cope with the aroma onslaught. It was like opening a fresh can of tennis balls, like the smell of freshly lain carpet or the sweet smell of day old paint. The smell was quite unlike anything, both unreal and real at the same time – like someone had dumped a mound of dirt and porcinis either side of me. I know some will question the validity of my descriptions but I know others will be nodding sagely in agreement.

Once I’d received my precious cargo from my truffle pusher it was time to get to work and the first act began with storage. Truffles have the very strangest properties – on the exterior they have a fine knobbly hide, not unlike some kind of Galapagos reptile, yet the inside is both hard yet fragile, grated with the lightest of touches.

Black truffles scrubbed clean

Before and after - the magical transformation of freshly scrubbed black truffles

Opening the packets in my apartment flooded the entire room with the rich scent. I was adequately prepared as the perfume is strongest when fresh. One I stored in an air-tight glass jar with half a dozen eggs. The other received the same treatment with carnaroli rice as a companion. Here they remained for a few days until my master plan bore fruition. Now those of you familiar with truffles will be familiar with how prohibitively expensive they are. Even from an inside source, you will be amazed how little by weight your hard earned cash buys you. That being said, what I was about to do with my truffles would be more priceless then anyone could ever imagine as it would not only ensure a weekend of gourmet satisfaction, but a lifetime of peace and quiet.

I gave a truffle to my mother-in-law.

No diamonds, gold or jewelry could have impressed my mother-in-law more then this knobbly mound of black gold. I am simply referred to as “the golden child” now (much to my wife’s disgust). Then an epicurean adventure ensued, one that fully exploited each and every precious gram of my truffle.

A truffle feast fit for a king! Truffle scented carnaroli rice; butter; eggs; brie; breakfast!

A truffle feast fit for a king! Truffle scented eggs and carnaroli rice; truffle butter; truffled scrambled eggs; truffled brie sandwich and the truffle big breakfast!

The first course was simple scrambled eggs. On their own, the eggs that had been stored with the truffle were already abundant with incredible flavor. Further gratings of truffle were pure decadence. Adding a touch of cream in the eggs  and serving it with sourdough resulted in one of the most simple yet refined dishes I’ve ever eaten. Each forkful delivers a truffle bomb through the sinuses. It was incredibly sinful and over the top – especially as when at home you don’t have to be stingy with the truffle!

The remains had other fates. My truffle pusher had informed me that the flavour and smell is best transmitted through fat. Anything with high fat content forms a perfect means of capturing the perfume. This is the same reason for storing them with eggs and rice as the scent permeates the shell of the egg and the grains of the rice.

Thus, the second stage involved an earlier trip to Formaggio Occello in Surry Hills. Here a beautiful brie and French d’affinois would be the perfect carriers for the truffle flavours. I took time to chill each down then sliced them in half horizontally. I then layered truffle slices to make essentially a haute cheese sandwich. Enjoyed a few days later at room temperature the flavor was sublime. The cheese forms the perfect party friend for the truffle, enhancing the richness and butteryness in both. Some specialty cheeses come with truffle in them, but nothing compares to making your own!

The final use was for long term investment. I bought 2 beautiful sticks of Myrtleford cultured butter. Cultured butter is the most amazing product with the funkiest cheesy smell and a taste somewhere between goat’s cheese and normal butter. After warming to room temperature I grated in a generous amount of truffle in and formed them into little logs. I was instructed to keep these in the freezer as they will last up to a year. It was a perfect way of preserving the gourmet memory. With this I sent my truffle experience off in farmyard style. I procured an excellent free range chook and gently parted its skin from breast. In these pockets I placed two overly large knobs of truffle butter. With a liberal seasoning and rub down I placed the chook in the oven for a nice roasting. Underneath I placed parboiled King Edward potatoes, carrots and kumera. What came out of the oven was the penultimate. This chicken was in another echelon. The skin was perfectly golden, blistered slightly and sticky around the thighs. An 09 Shaw and Smith M3 Chardonnay just put the cream and cherry on top. In fact the whole lot was so incredibly good, I completely forgot to take a picture.

Of course things are always more fun when people are along for the ride, so I passed along an ample supply to The Gourmet Forager in high anticipation of reading her tinkerings with them. And even as I type this I can remember that heady scent already – did I mention I still have 3 more logs of truffle butter?

A few shared learnings:

  • Fresh truffles should be kept in the fridge in a glass container. Plastic absorbs smells and it is not uncommon to have the smell lingering in your fridge for weeks.
  • Fresh truffles will come uncleaned. As they are used raw they need to be scrubbed with a new toothbrush under cold tap water just before use.
  • Fresh truffles should be used fresh! Maximum shelf life is 2 weeks refrigerated but the perfume is finite and is already disappearing when it is unearthed.
  • Fresh truffles do not make good truffle oil. Truffle oil is made artificially. Fresh truffles will go rancid quite quickly in oil.
  • Truffles can be sliced with a specialty slicer but they are quite hard to track down. A microplane does the same trick or a very sharp paring knife and steady hands

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So following in the wisened footsteps of the Chi Master, I decided I would largely follow his lead and use his experiences to inspire my own truffle extravangaza feast. Early one wintery morning, we met in a small alleyway shadowed by tall buildings and slipped into a nondescript cafe for the transaction. There he unveiled his cargo – 4 sealed bags containing 5 tissue wrapped A grade truffles, their heady scent escaping the bags and violently perfuming the air we breathed.

My own truffle mule bringing an aromatastic cargo of truffles

My own truffle mule, the Chi Master, bringing me an aromatastic cargo of truffles

As soon as I could, I too stored my truffles in a glass jar filled with carnaroli rice with grand plans for a future risotto. They were not all destined for my belly, two smaller ones totalling 48g I intended to keep for myself, another two had grateful buyers and a smaller bow wrapped jar housed the final truffle sitting aplomb atop a mound of carnaroli – a surprise birthday gift for my unsuspecting best friend, L-bean.

Truffle infused carnaroli rice

Truffle infused carnaroli rice - one for me and one gifted to the L-bean

After a few days of perfuming, I took out my truffles in their raw state and set to work cleaning and grating them. And as the Chi Master had beautifully described them, I too found them to be like strange tough little Galapagos dumplings yet surprisingly yielding to the the gentlest pressure. Dark mottled snowflakes fell as I grated them away.

How to clean of black Perigord truffles

The cleaning of black gold - from its raw state caked in mud to scrubbed clean and grater ready

With these truffle snowflakes I made truffle honey, decanting a small amount of honey into a jar and spooning a liberal amount of shaved truffle in.

Making truffle honey, packed with shaved truffle

Making truffle honey, packed with shaved truffle

Employing a sharp knife I slivered wafer thin slices for a wedge of oozing ripe truffled brie.

Packing in more truffle slices than your average truffled cheese..

Packing in more truffle slices in this ripe brie than your average truffled cheese..

And save for a few reserved slices, the rest of my treasure I grated for truffled butter as this seemed like the best way to extend the precious life and use of my truffle. The process of making truffle butter is simple: take one stick of exquisite rich French butter warmed to room temperature, shave an obscene amount of truffle into it, fashion into fat little logs whilst concocting drool worthy recipes to use it.

Making truffle butter and the dilemma of what to do with the final product

Making truffle butter - that's not cookies and cream, my friend.

So with a relatively small amount of truffle, I created an impressive array of generously truffled goods.

From one small truffle I have created truffled carnaroli rice, truffle honey, truffled brie and truffle butter.

From one small truffle I have created truffled carnaroli rice, truffle honey, truffled brie and truffle butter. Time to convert this into a feast!

On their own, the honey, the risotto, the cheese and the butter were satisfying – but to truly impress, we converted these items into ingredients for a DIY three course truffle feast, and a convenient excuse to celebrate the L-bean’s birthday. Truffle feasts are a dime a dozen in restaurants come winter time but they come at exorbitant prices. Procure your own truffle and you’d be surprised how simple and cost effective it can be created at home. Sure, my truffle feast was pretty rustic, as befitting the humble origins of the truffle, and didn’t have fancy deconstructed scampi loins or the like – but there’s no reason yours couldn’t!

For the entree we made bresaola with rocket, grated Parmesan, grated lemon and sliced truffle all lubricated with a touch of truffle oil.

Entree: Bresaola with truffle

Entree: Bresaola with truffle slices, truffle oil, rocket, grated lemon rind and grated Parmesan

The main we made was one I was personally very excited about. We planned to make a baked mushroom risotto, one that the Co-pilot’s dad makes regularly and is a family favourite, but this time, we made it with some precious dried wild mushrooms I’d managed to procure – amazing morels (the honeycombed looking ones in the picture below), chanterelles (the tan coloured ones) and black trumpet mushrooms. The black trumpet mushrooms were new to me and seemed custom designed for a marriage with cheese – amazingly, the smell of these mushrooms was exactly the smell you get from a finished baked mushroom risotto and promised wonders. The smell of our apartment as we made this dish was indescribably good. L-bean arrived at our apartment as it was cooking and practically clawed at my door to get in!

Hydrating my precious stash of dried wild mushrooms - pungent morels, chanterelles and delicious black trumpets

Hydrating my precious stash of dried wild mushrooms - pungent morels, chanterelles and delicious black trumpets

Simply soak the mushrooms (you can substitute porcini for the wild mushrooms, which is what the original recipe calls for); sweat onions and chopped button mushrooms in butter; add the rehydrated mushrooms and risotto rice and importantly, a generous amount of truffle butter. Stir well, add the reserved mushroom stock and bake. Finish with both grated and slivers of Parmesan and for that added touch of decadence, slivers of truffle to garnish.

Main: Baked wild mushroom risotto with truffles

Main: Baked wild mushroom risotto with truffles - with a generous blob of truffle butter

Baked truffled wild mushroom risotto

Baked truffled wild mushroom risotto - cheesy, earthy, pungent, rich and tasty beyond words

The brie we’d marinated with truffle earlier formed part of my cheese platter for dessert. Accompanying it was a strong bitey blue which we served with the truffle honey. The truffled brie was amazing – ripe, unctuous and devoured greedily whereas the sweet earthiness of the honey tempered the powerful pong of the blue cheese nicely.

Dessert - truffled brie and blue cheese with truffled honey

Dessert: Truffled cheese plate - truffled brie and a French blue with moscato served with truffled honey

And though that was the end of my three course truffle feast that night, we’ve since led a truffle rich lifestyle and had many more truffle feasts. Amongst other things, the L-bean converted her gifted truffle into a truffled spatchcock roast with generous slivers of truffle tucked liberally under the skin.

Roasted truffled spatchcock

Roasted truffled spatchcock

Roasted truffled spatchcock with roasted vegetables and potato gratin

Roasted truffled spatchcock with roasted vegetables and potato gratin

And drawing on inspiration from my local deli, P.R. Raineri, we also created a three cheese truffled pasta chock full of asiago, grated Grana Padano, an entire wedge of truffle pecorino and of course, a log of truffle butter. Not the healthiest of meals I must admit, but goodness it was tasty and worth the sacrifice in svelte waistlines.

pasta with asiago, truffle pecorino, Grana Padano and truffle butter

Rich indulgent pasta laden with asiago, truffle pecorino, Grana Padano and our truffle butter

Truffled three cheese pasta

Truffled three cheese pasta spiked with parsley and grated lemon

Now even after all that feasting, like the Chi Master, I still have three, three, precious logs of frozen truffle butter left, begging to be released from their cryogenic prison and transformed into an indulgent meal worth writing home about – or at least, blogging about!

Inspired to make your own truffle feast? Well, if you don’t have a friend-of-a-friend-who-owns-a-truffle-farm, then seek out Lowes Mount Truffiere, where we sourced our truffles from. During winter these guys have a stall at the Growers Markets on the first Saturday of each month in Pyrmont in front of Star City. By now, with winter over and the warm weather returning, the fresh truffle season should have come to a close but there’s always next year.

And if you’re keen to learn more about truffles including history, uses, the Australian truffle market and more, click over to my previous post on truffle foraging here.

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The truffles used in this post were paid for by The Gourmet Forager. Big thanks to the Chi Master for his guest post contribution!

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Adriana September 8, 2011 at 8:51 am

Wow, talk about a gourmet feast. I love how you said ‘ Weve since led a truffle rich lifestyle’. I want that lifestyle. The spatchcock looked fantastic, as did the Brie, what Brie did you use? Really great tips, I would have never thought about brushing them, but perhaps Ive never had the real raw thing, but I do treat them like babies when I have a chance to buy some. Great post :)

2 Rosie September 8, 2011 at 9:22 am

Good God – I have to eat with you one of these days PLEASE xxx

3 Merryn Galluccio September 8, 2011 at 9:46 am

What fun you’ve had. The spatchcock was a masterpiece and every adventure you had with the truffles was inspiring. Oh, for a truffle hunt with such truffle flair. Amazing ;D

4 Jamie September 8, 2011 at 10:50 am

Hold on one moment – I work with the guy NOW and he hadn’t mentioned this! It seems the Chi Master keeps his treasures well hidden. Well, the cat’s out of the bag now.

5 Apex@blueapocalypse September 8, 2011 at 9:14 pm

It’s amazing how a small amount of truffle can go a long way. The risotto looks great, I’ve never tried baking a risotto before. I love eating truffles with scallops.
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6 Richard Elliot September 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Wonderful truffle extravagence!

I had a brief spell doing some work experience in a restaurant 10yrs ago. One day a man arrived in the kitchen to sell truffles to the chef and after a brief negotiation we had a jar full. I was charged with making truffle butter and with re-wrapping them each day with fresh kitchen paper to keep them dry.

Although I handled them a fair bit in those two weeks I’ve never had a decent taste of truffle. The couple of tiny shavings you sometimes get in a restaurant have never given me a real taste.
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7 mademoiselle délicieuse September 10, 2011 at 11:35 am

How indulgently decadent! I find that truffle is one of those things like blue cheese or durian – its scent and flavour are unique and polarising and not for everyone. I have a friend who likens the aroma of truffles to natural gas and for that I think she’s insane!

8 chopinandmysaucepan September 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Black truffle and French butter – that is a lethal combination! I don’t think I mind too much decadence at all!

9 Dolly September 13, 2011 at 9:33 pm

truffle and brie.. omg thats got to be a killer!

and the roast.. im getting hungry!
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10 Adrian (Food Rehab) September 19, 2011 at 10:34 pm

This is just awesome. I attended a truffle dinner recently where Tamar Truffles took us through the makings of truffles and how they use dogs to know when they are ready. They also spoke of the financial risks involved esp not knowing whether your harvest may or may not produce after 5 years! Nonetheless, I now have an addiction to truffles from shaving them over a creamy pasta to over some vanilla bean ice cream. HELP!

11 spiceandmore September 20, 2011 at 10:54 am

You did well with your truffles – what a feast. Love the look of that risotto…and that pasta. Yum! I bought some fresh truffles in Tasmania when I was there a few weeks ago and brought some of that precious cargo back to Sydney. They were very good but I wish I had seen your post for some additional inspiration while I still had them!
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12 Robert September 24, 2011 at 3:30 am

Your fascination of truffles have paid off. It is amazing how you came to these amazing truffle menu. The truffle has this effect in making your creation tempting. You were serious when you said this is going to be a truffle feast.
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13 Trissa September 24, 2011 at 6:26 am

Trina, so jealous. I should not have set foot in your blog! I’ve got this sudden urge to head to buonricordo for truffle pasta tonight.
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14 Tori (@eat-tori) September 29, 2011 at 1:56 am

Stoppit. I am literally pawing at the screen. I’m really a simple girl at heart, so it’s the truffled pasta that tipped me over the edge completely. This is brilliant, brilliant stuff.
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15 Sophia October 11, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Oh. My. God. Truffle Brie. Amazing!

16 David @CookingChat December 18, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Thanks, some good ideas! Researching for a small bit of fresh black truffle due to come my way this week. Thinking of risotto.
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