When it comes to cooking with truffles, these exotic fungi are sure to make an exquisite addition to any meal. But due to their long cultivation period and limited availability, truffles can be hard to come by. So if you are able to get your hands on such a delicacy, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.
Cooking with Truffles: Simple Rules
Low to No Heat
The secret to a perfectly cooked truffle is actually not cooking it at all! White truffles are a rare culinary experience, and their exquisite taste need not be tampered with. In fact, cooking a white truffle can actually destroy its natural flavor.
Black truffles, on the other hand, benefit from a minimal amount of heat. Lightly cooking black truffles will help to unlock the full extent of their flavor. Oftentimes, the heat from the dish itself will be more than enough to unleash the truffle’s alluring aroma and taste. You can also lightly saute your black truffles in butter, over a low flame.
Fat Fuels Flavor
Truffles pair best with creamy bases such as cheese, butter, and avocado. This is because the fat in these foods naturally brings out the truffle’s rich flavors.
Avoid pairing truffles with ingredients that are too spicy or acidic–like citrus or tomato sauce–as these are likely to overpower the truffle’s flavor.
Less is More
Truffles are extremely pungent, and for this reason should never be cooked as your main ingredient, but rather as a powerful accent. A modest handful of grated or shaved truffle can pack a surprisingly strong punch. A little bit really does go a long way!
Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner!
If you’ve never used truffles before, don’t sweat it! The good news is that they are fairly easy to cook with. But you may want to start with black truffles, since these are typically more durable than white truffles, and less expensive. You may even opt for burgundy truffles (a.k.a. autumn truffles, a subset of the black truffle), as these tend to go well with pretty much everything!
Truffles with Pasta
Pasta with truffles is a classic cuisine, and for good reason. Just a handful of shavings will add an amazing umami to every bite.
Using a cream-based sauce (such as alfredo) is ideal, since the dairy carries a good amount of fat. You can make a simple sauce from scratch using Parmigiano-Reggiano (or any other similar cheese) and heavy whipping cream. Grating truffles rather than shaving them is the recommended method when cooking sauces.
Ragu (meat sauce) can also be complimented nicely by black truffles. Like cheese, the natural animal fat will draw out the truffle’s flavor. Be sure to balance out the acid from the tomato sauce with a rich meat.
Lastly, going sauceless is still a great option for a simple spaghetti dish. A little oil, grated cheese, and crushed black pepper topped off with truffle shavings will make for an elegant presentation.
Truffles with Rice
Risotto is the recommended rice to use when pairing with truffles. Its texture lends itself to a smooth, creamy base. You can also use other grains like white rice and polenta.
Whatever you decide to use as your base, always remember to add your truffle shavings after the grain has been removed from the stovetop.
Truffles with Eggs
Scrambled, fried, or sunny side up–no matter your preference, you can bet that truffles will make an eggcellent addition! Simply sprinkle over your plated egg of choice for a luxurious breakfast experience. Alternatively, you can cook your eggs using fresh truffle butter (we’ll tell you how to make this down below).
Truffles and Fish
If you are serving fish as your main course, incorporating truffles is a great way to add instant decadence to a lean dish. Halibut, sole, or salmon are all excellent choices, but any fresh fish should pair well.
If you’re looking for something on the lighter side, truffles can be featured as part of your favorite salad. When serving salad as a main course, a single ounce of truffle per person should be plenty. You can’t really go wrong with burgundy truffles here, since they pair so well with most leafy greens and spring veggies.
Fun with Fungi
Just because truffles are a luxury item doesn’t mean they have to be limited to fancy foods. Truffles can bring a sophisticated quality to just about any dish. Here are just a few examples:
Dips can be a great source for those extra little truffle shavings that you may have laying around from your main course. Try adding them to your next spinach or artichoke dip for an instantly more impressive appetizer!
Pizza with truffles is both casual and classy. White sauces are recommended in this instance, so as to avoid the acidic nature of marinara. Just be sure to top off your pizza with truffle shavings after it’s done baking so that the truffles don’t dry out.
Grilled cheese isn’t just for kids! For a more adult version of this staple sandwich, swap your regular olive oil with truffle oil (we’ll show you how to make this from scratch below as well).
Pairing Truffles with Wine
At the end of the day, the best wine pairings are all a matter of personal taste. But there are a few simple suggestions that can help you narrow down your selection when serving your truffle-inspired dish.
- Location, location, location - One option is to choose a wine that has the same origin as your truffle.
- Bright and white - Truffles tend to pair better with white wines because they tend to be lower in tannins (which come from grape skin, stems, and seeds). If you do want to pair with red, go for brighter blends like pinot noir and zinfandel.
- A simple flavor - Just like with food, avoid pairing truffles with wines that are overly aromatic or have a more complex flavor profile.
Dazed and Infused
While there’s nothing quite like fresh truffles, getting your hands on whole truffles may not always be possible (or economical). Nonetheless, there are a few variations that you can work with to give your food that unique umami.
Truffle carpaccio is a condiment made up of marinated, thinly sliced truffles. While fresh truffles only last from a few days to a few weeks, carpaccio can be kept refrigerated for several months (though it will slowly lose some of its flavor over time).
You can cook and garnish with truffle carpaccio just as you would with fresh truffle, simply adding slices atop your dish at your discretion (also like fresh truffles, a single shaving is the perfect serving size per person). Urbani Truffles sells both black and white carpaccio.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of eating truffle fries, you know how delicious a drizzle of truffle oil can make your dish. Often used in bars and restaurants, this condiment can be added to burgers and sandwiches as well. But beware that purchasing truffle oil for personal use can be a bit tricky, since most truffle oil is made with 2,4-Dithiapentane, a chemical used to mimic the taste of truffles.
While it's not impossible to find true truffle oil, it's also fairly easy to make. All you have to do is add a handful of fresh truffle shavings to your choice of oil (olive oil and sunflower oil are two great options) and store in a cool, dark place for several days to fully infuse.
Truffle butter is also easy to make from scratch, and a great ingredient to have handy in the kitchen (remember those truffle eggs from earlier?). For best results, purchase high-quality butter. Bring the butter to room temperature and add in your truffle shavings along with a pinch of salt. Voila! Store your truffle butter in the fridge for your next batch of soft-scrambled eggs.
Truffle salt can be a nice alternative to truffle oil, and also goes great on popcorn! Grate your truffle into a glass bottle of high-quality salt (sea salt would be an excellent choice here). Store the bottle in a cool, dark place to infuse for a few days before use.
Waste Not, Want Not!
You can easily make these delicious truffle products using any leftover fresh truffle scraps. This is also a smart way to make your fresh truffles last, and have these luxurious condiments handy for several more months of meal prep. Kolikof Caviar and Gourmet Foods carries a selection of truffles (both black and white) that are sourced fresh upon order and guaranteed to bring your culinary creations to the next level.