The first truffles of the season passed through my hands just days ago, and I could not resist. These redolent fungi captivate me and I needed my own magnificent mushroom to play with!
Weekends in Alba, Italy are abuzz this autumn with celebration of what has been reported as the best white truffle harvest of the 21st century. The climate was perfect – neither too hot, nor too cold – and the soil provided an impeccable environment for growth, with just the right amount of moisture.
A prize for any palate, white trifola d’Alba are best served raw, shaved over pasta, eggs, or on top of risotto. I opted to purchase a Burgundy truffle instead, however, because I wanted to cook with it. Dark skinned truffles (both the Périgord and Burgundy varieties) are better prepared with heat involved. While white truffles can lose their subtlety when cooked, black truffles seem to bloom and permeate your dish.
I made a traditional French dish: Pommes Anna. The crispy outside, and the creamy, earthy inside sent me to heaven with each buttery bite. Close your eyes, let them roll back, take a deep breath and savor this dish – it is one you must try!
Truffled Pommes Anna
1/4 cup clarified butter: heat 1/4 cup of butter in a small sauce pan until white solids separate. Discard the solids.
4-5 Shepody potatoes (or other waxy potato such as Yukon gold)
1 large Burgundy truffle (at least 1.5-2 oz)
Salt and pepper
1. Clarify the butter. Set aside, but keep warm.
2. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
3. Peel and slice the potatoes to approximately 1/16.” I find a mandolin the easiest and most precise method of slicing for this purpose. It is helpful to keep the potatoes in a bowl of water, this keeps them from browning and has the added benefit of removing extra starch.
4. Wipe the mandolin free of the potato starch and adjust to slice slightly thinner. Brush the truffle clean and slice on the mandolin. Reserve the last small bit to grate over the finished dish.
5. Coat a 9″-10″ iron skillet (either cast iron or enameled cast iron) with some of the clarified butter. Arrange, interlacing the slices of potato and truffle in the pan. Brush butter on each layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour any remaining butter over the top of the dish when layering is complete.
6. Set the pan over high heat for 8-10 minutes, until the edges of the potatoes are browned. Do not stir, or disrupt the slices while browning.
7. Move the pan to the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, compressing the dish with a slightly smaller pan, or other weighted utensil every few minutes. When the top of the dish has begun to brown, remove the pan and loosen the potatoes. Pour off any extra butter and turn out onto a dish or cutting board.
To serve: cut into triangles and grate a small amount of the remaining truffle onto each serving. Our wine buyer, Jess, suggested pairing this dish with Cascina Roera’s Cardin, an earthy red wine that will accent the truffle flavor of the potatoes as well as complement any meat served with it — bon appétit!
Sourcing truffles: currently, we are able to source Burgundy (or “black summer”) truffles and the sumptuous white truffle (trifola d’Alba). The black winter truffle (the popular Périgord truffle) should be available in January. For more information about purchasing truffles at Formaggio Kitchen, please visit our website.
Nicole Roach is a keen kitchen experimenter and a member of both the produce and register teams at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.