Recipe: Fresh Pasta with Black Truffles and Parmesan Butter Sauce
2015 marked an amazing year for me; the birth of my beautiful baby girl, a new exciting job, a move from Boise to Portland, and a special first time cooking experience of Black truffles!
My wonderful sister-in-law brought me two fresh black truffles home with her from France for a special Bald Gourmet Christmas present. She took great care in sourcing them, packing them in rice in a sealed container, and carefully flying home with them the full 20 hours of travel. She was super excited to give them to me, and even more excited to see what delicious treats I would make with them. It was the perfect present for my gluttonous self.
If you’re not familiar with truffles, they are an incredibly pungent mushroom that grows under the ground off the roots of trees. They look like little dirt clods and have a very strong savory flavor which varies by variety and age. The ones given to me were harvested about a week before I got them, which is about all the time they are good for. They are found using trained dogs and pigs, and also flies tied to a string. Crazy! They are in high demand and cost a ridiculous amount of money…..$800 per kilogram for black, and upwards of $2,500 per kilo for white. If you are ever fortunate enough to come across some fresh ones, take the splurge and buy a couple. They are well worth it.
What to Make with Fresh Truffles
Being my first real experience with truffles, I spent the morning reading up on them and looking through different recipes for them. Being such an expensive ingredient, there are loads of extremely fancy gourmet recipes for them, all of which look fantastic. But I wanted something classy and simple. Something that would focus entirely on the truffles and accentuate their flavor. After much thought, I settled on some fresh pasta with butter, and a black truffle omelet.
How to Prep Truffles for cooking
Here’s the deal….due to the strong flavor of truffles, you can’t just chop them up and throw them in your dish. You need to be selective in how to use them, choosing to include them only in dishes that will primarily focus on the truffle as the primary flavor component. Also, being that they grow underground, you need to take care to scrub them thoroughly. You may even want to peel off the outside “skin” and only use the inside savory flesh to avoid any “wash resistant” dirt as well as the stronger somewhat off-putting flavored skin.
In order to really enjoy them, you need to slice/shave them very thinly. There are really cool little truffle shavers (similar to a small mandoline) specifically for this purpose. But being that I may never come across fresh truffles again for a long long time, there wasn’t much use in running out to buy one. Instead, I just used my vegetable peeler.
Time to Make Some Fresh Pasta!
Again, having such a luxurious ingredient as fresh truffles on hand, I wanted to make sure that I gave them the special treatment they deserved. So no store bought pasta would do.
I put on my old Italian grandma hat, rolled up my sleeves, and went to work making pasta from scratch by building a flour well (4 cups flour), cracking 5 large eggs in the middle of it, and stirring in a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and a 1/4 tsp salt into the eggs. I stirred the eggs as I gradually pulled the flour into them, then went to work kneading it all into a ball of dough for 10 minutes or so, making the dough nice and soft. I then covered it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes before rolling it out.
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 5 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
I was inspired to keep the “by hand” thing going, so I rolled the dough completely out by hand with an old-school wood roller. This was a good experience to have but was a lot of work. I’ll stick to my electric pasta roller ongoing, but this hard work this time around was deserving of the amazing truffles. I rolled it out as thin as I could get it by hand without tearing it apart when I moved it about.
To make it into fettuccine, I carefully rolled the entire sheet of pasta up into a tube and sliced thin strips with a knife. This worked perfectly and I was able to get relatively even width pasta. I then unrolled each little bundle and piled all the fettuccine up in a mass, tossing with flour as I did so that it wouldn’t stick. It turned out perfectly.
I then shaved my black truffles, shaved my Parmesan, and heated some butter in a small pot. I dropped the pasta into a large pot of boiling salted water (fresh pasta only takes about 4 minutes to cook) and then dropped the truffle shavings into the bubbling butter. The truffles became very aromatic after only about 30 seconds, at which point I seasoned them with salt and pepper and turned their heat down to low.
How to Make Decadent Black Truffle Pasta
Once the pasta was al dente, I drained it in a colander and placed it back into the cooking pot. I added 4 tablespoons of heavy cream to it, the truffles and butter, and the Parmesan cheese. I then tossed it until it was well coated, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper, and plated onto 5 pasta bowls, garnishing with additional Parmesan shavings.
The result? Mighty tasty, though I think I would do two truffles next time for a stronger truffle flavor. The family loved it though, and so did I. This was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever sunk my teeth into. Thank you Sis for the truffles! Merry Christmas indeed!
Recipe by Jothan Yeager, December 2015
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 5 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 fresh black truffles
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 cup shaved parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Thoroughly wash and clean the truffles, gently removing much of the outer skin as you do. Set aside.
- To make the pasta, start by pouring the flour into a pile on a counter or table top, building a flour well in the middle of it.
- Crack the eggs into the middle of the flour well.
- Stir a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and a ¼ tsp salt into the eggs.
- Stir the eggs while gradually pulling the flour into them. Once the flour has absorbed most of the egg mixture, start kneading it into a ball for 10 minutes or so, making the dough nice and soft.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes before rolling it out.
- Using either an electric or manual pasta roller, roll the pasta out as thin as you can without tearing it apart when moving it about.
- To make into fettuccine, use the fettuccine cutter of your electric pasta maker, or cut it by hand by carefully rolling the entire sheet of pasta up into a tube and slicing into ¼-inch strips with a knife, then unroll each little cut bundle.
- Pile all the fettuccine up in a mass, tossing with additional flour so it won’t stick to itself.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Using a truffle shaver, mandoline, or vegetable peeler, shave the black truffles and set aside.
- Using a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan and set aside.
- Heat the butter in a small pot until melted and bubbling.
- Drop the pasta into the large pot of boiling salted water (fresh pasta only takes about 4 minutes to cook). When the pasta has cooked for about 3 minutes, drop the truffle shavings into the bubbling butter. The truffles will become very aromatic after only about 30 seconds. Once aromatic, season them with salt and pepper and turn their heat down to low.
- Once the pasta is al dente, drain it in a colander and place it back into the cooking pot.
- Add the heavy cream, truffles and butter, and the Parmesan cheese to the pasta.
- Toss until well coated, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
- Plate onto 5 pasta bowls, garnishing with additional Parmesan shavings.
- Serve immediately.
The Bald Gourmet uses fresh black truffles to make of the best fresh pasta ever eaten.