Essential ingredients: truffles
Author: Berry Bros. & Rudd
On the table: The Alba truffle festival, which runs until 15th November 2015, sees the start of the truffle season in earnest. Summer and autumn truffles pale into insignificance when compared with the white diamonds of Alba.
These gems of the culinary world are nothing short of mesmerising (and so they should be for the price). Although exorbitant when they first come on the market, prices do drop to merely eye-watering as the season progresses. Are they worth it? Well, the intricate white veining and marbling throughout the white truffle produces an aroma and flavour that is gastronomically unique; they are quite different from black truffles and wonderfully intoxicating.
Eggs and rice both have an affinity with truffles. As they are porous, they are able to absorb flavours, so put your eggs (or rice) and truffles into an airtight container and leave in the fridge overnight.
In the glass: A perfect partner to many a truffle dish would be a wine from where truffles are found. Barolo and Barbaresco fit the bill perfectly. Mature white Burgundy and Rhône also work extremely well as do, unsurprisingly given their proximity to Périgeux, the wines of the southern Dordogne and midi-Pyrenées. What might surprise (and reassure) many of you is the balance that bready vintage Champagne brings to truffle-infused creations. The secret here is to find a wine with notable textural qualities, often a broad and mouth-filling expansiveness, and not too much fruit. Non-fruit interest will win over fruit intensity in this regard.
Stewart’s Truffle Scrambled Eggs calls for a full-bodied white wine with an oily mouth-feel. Better Verdicchio fit the bill brilliantly. The Truffle Crème Brûlee demands the attention of any Madeira style, particularly those at the (relatively) drier end of the spectrum. Sercial through to Bual will see you right.
- 12 eggs
- 50g butter
- 2 tbsp double cream
- 1 small white truffle
- 1 tbsp chopped chives
- Sourdough bread
A well-made scrambled egg is a thing of beauty. The key is all in the cooking which should be low and slow until the eggs are just setting. Crack the eggs in a bowl and season well. Whisk thoroughly to break down the egg (I use a hand blender as this breaks all the gloopy strands and helps them cook evenly). Warm your saucepan, then add the butter and whisk in the egg. Cook over a medium heat stirring all the time until the egg has lightly scrambled about 10 minutes it should be smooth with no large lumps, stop the cooking process by adding the cream. Finish with the chives before adjusting the seasoning. Serve on hot, toasted sourdough and grate or finely slice the truffle over the top.
- 80g egg yolks
- 50g sugar
- 125ml milk
- 125ml cream
- 2g truffle oil
- 5g fresh grated truffle
This truffle custard dates back to my first job at The Connaught hotel, working for the famous chef Michel Bourdin who at the time was known as the truffle king of London. (It was not unknown for £10,000 of truffles to come through the door in a season to be prepared and preserved for the rest of the year.) This dish always makes an appearance on the menus in one guise or another at this time of year, with our Chairman recently claiming it to be one of his favourite desserts.
Whisk the yolks and sugar until pale. Bring the milk, cream and truffle oil to the boil and pour over the yolk mixture whisking all the time. Now grate in the fresh truffle. Divide the mix into six ramekins and cook in a Bain-Marie at 120C for about 25 minutes or until the custard is just set. Chill in the fridge for a few hours. Before serving, sprinkle the top with sugar and caramelise with a blow-torch. Serve with a warm shortbread biscuit.