I recently decided to splurge on a very luxurious little piece of winter specialty… a humble black truffle from the Madame Truffles pop up store in Surry Hills, located in the cantina below Pasta Emilia. It set me back about $86 for a 30g little squash-sized ball, and smelled very olive-like in aroma. I carefully hustled the little funghi home and buried it in the crisper with a box full of eggs, and I spent a week making a bunch of simple dishes – which are the best things to top with truffle. Mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, pasta. While perfumed, I frankly had been expecting a slightly more pungent aroma – a more potent version of truffle oil. Truffle oil is synthetic however, and the truffle oil you get where you have a piece of truffle submerged in it is the very worst as it will cause the oil to go rancid. The best way to infuse truffle into oil is to actually hang the truffle above the surface of the oil within a sealed jar or bottle, not in it!
I would make a similar comparison of truffle to truffle oil, like strawberries to strawberry sweets. The resemblance is there, but really quite faint. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to fork out another $80+ this month to invest in another truffle (as Night Owl and I will be purchasing our flights to Japan next year soon), so I ended up popping by the David Jones Food Hall in the city and bought a little jar of Tetsuya’s Truffle Salsa to take with us on our Blue Mountains getaway this weekend to cook up some killer scrambled eggs.
A fresh truffle should ideally be used within the week, and the paper towel it’s wrapped in changed daily. On the last day of our truffle best before date, I made us a luxurious breakfast of truffle scrambled eggs, followed by a lunch of homemade pappardelle with a mushroom truffle sauce. I added a sneaky dash of truffle oil I had left over in the pantry for a more fragrant boost.
It amazes me that a few years back I couldn’t cook a single thing without the assistance of a recipe, and following it to a T. Now I can make sauces by touch and feel – a little more stock, cornflour, water or wine. This mushroom sauce is beautifully tangy, earthy and creamy and clings wonderfully to the fresh pasta. I made fresh pasta because I’m a snob like that now, but please do feel free to buy some fresh or dried egg pappardelle if you’re short on time and/or don’t have a pasta roller.
Truffle Mushroom Pappardelle (an original recipe by Confessions of a Glutton).
For the pasta, you will need:
- 2 large eggs;
- 200g 00 flour, plus extra for dusting;
- 2.5 litres of water.
For the mushroom sauce, you will need:
- 10g dried porcini mushrooms;
- 250ml boiling water;
- One tablespoon of butter;
- One large eschallot, about 50g, finely diced;
- 100g swiss brown mushrooms, sliced;
- 1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth;
- One teaspoon beef stock;
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard;
- 3 tablespoons thickened cream;
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra to serve;
- Truffle oil, to serve;
- Freshly cracked black pepper;
- 3-4g fresh truffle, thinly sliced with a mandolin (optional)
To make your pasta, pour the flour into a small bowl, make a well in the centre and crack your eggs into the well. Whisk the eggs into the flour using a fork, before turning out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and kneading until it comes together and is nicely pliable. Wrap in cling film and set aside at room temperature for ten to fifteen minutes.
Divide the pasta dough into quarters, remove a quarter and re-wrap the rest. Using a pasta roller, pass it through the highest setting three times, folding and re-folding it as you go. After the third time, begin to pass the pasta continuously through the rollers, reducing the thickness at each pass. Once you’ve rolled the pasta through the lowest setting, lay out the sheet on a floured surface, roll up and cut into 2cm-thick strips using a sharp knife. Unravel, and hang on a pasta drying rack if you have one, or a clothes hanger works perfectly well! Repeat with the remaining pasta and allow it to dry as you start on your sauce.
Soak the porcini in the cup of boiling water and cover until fully hydrated. Remove the porcini and squeeze out the excess water, chop the porcini finely and set aside. Retain the porcini soaking water and add a teaspoon of beef stock.
Heat the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, and once frothing add the diced eschallots. Fry until fragrant, before adding the sliced swiss brown mushrooms and porcini. Once the mushrooms have softened and are nicely coated in butter, add the white white wine to de-glaze the pan, scraping the base of the pan to loosen any sticky bits. Allow the white wine to simmer and reduce until it’s almost gone, then add the cup of porcini-beef stock.
Simmer for five to ten minutes or until reduced by half. In the meantime, bring the 2.5 litres of water in a large saucepan to the boil with a generous helping of salt. Add the fresh pasta and cook for two or three minutes, or cook packaged pasta according to directions. Drain and return to the large saucepan, cover.
Add the Dijon mustard and cream to the reduced mushroom broth, remove from heat and stir in. Pour this beautiful sauce over the saucepan of drained pasta – just enough so that it clings to the pasta, but not so much as to drown the pasta in the sauce. Stir in the 1/4 cup of Parmesan.
Serve on warmed plates. Drizzle with a tiny bit of truffle oil, grind over some freshly cracked black pepper before topping with more grated Parmesan and a couple of delicate fresh truffle slices. Devour.