Ah…Truffles! The mere mention of the word evokes an intoxicating aroma, the luxurious and the decadent. Perhaps it even causes visions of a truffle dog, led by tweed-clad handlers burrowing away amidst a forest of trees, sniffing and searching amongst the damp undergrowth to locate the prized possession.
Once located, those prized truffles are secreted into a special bag, away from prying eyes and borne triumphantly away – as precious as gold – to a farmhouse in the hills or a pricey city restaurant. On arrival they are unwrapped, inspected, admired and handled only by the gentlest of hands, gazed upon lovingly by adoring chefs. Then, finally, they are turned into something out of this world, added to a unique dish or a real specialty that is rare and delicious.
Well, here’s an easy Italian recipe to capture a slice of that magic. Tagliatelle with truffles. But it's for just the right occasion, probably not every night (unless you can afford to live like a king). Maybe it's for the best of occasions or an important anniversary of birthday. Or, just because.
Like much Italian food, it’s simple fare which ensures the essential tastes are not confused or lost, but rather enjoyed in their purest form. And it’s luxurious. It obviously relies on the finest of ingredients, so try not to skimp! You will want to use fresh white truffles or black truffles (the black are more refined, the white more pungent). But if for some reason you can’t find the real thing, you can substitute them with truffles from the jar preserved in brine. Also, ensure you have real Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano) which is easily sourced these days.
You will use the truffle sparingly, as it’s not cheap, but what a taste and what an aroma! To be enjoyed with a white wine like Pinot Grigio.
To serve 4, you need the following ingredients:
135g (5oz) butter
1 garlic clove
400g (14oz) tagliatelle pasta
65g (2/3 cup) of grated Parmesan cheese (use the highest quality Parmigiano Reggiano you can find)
1 small white truffle (Alba) or black truffle (Norcia). If you can’t find a fresh truffle, you could use the jarred variety preserved in brine
Freshly ground black pepper
1. In a saucepan, melt the butter over a moderately low heat
2. Add the garlic clove to the saucepan and heat until the butter starts to bubble (be careful to not let it burn) and turn lightly golden in colour
3. Strain the butter
4. In the meantime, cook the tagliatelle in a large saucepan of boiling water until al dente.
5. Drain the pasta and return it to the saucepan.
6. To the saucepan, add the butter and the Parmesan, and season with salt and ground black pepper. Toss lightly
7. Serve the tagliatelle on warmed plates and whilst at table shave a few very thin slices of the truffle on each serving (you can use a mandolin or potato peeler to do this).
And when you're drinking your Pinot Grigio, remember to toast the truffle dog and its handler!
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