Summer of Love

It was while browsing the produce aisle at my favorite Japanese market that I saw it — in a plastic container, settled on a bed of rice, a knobby black Perigord truffle.

Truffle-smothered Iberico pork shoulder steak

Truffle-smothered Iberico pork shoulder steak

I picked it up and regarded it enviously. The price was $34, which for a truffle slightly smaller than a tennis ball seemed surprisingly reasonable. But it was more than I felt like spending, so I continued on to the fresh seafood section. But while I shopped for hamachi and albacore, my mind kept returning to the truffle. When I picked it up, I’d been hit by the unique perfume that told me this was a summer French truffle rather than a fall Oregon truffle. There is no other smell on earth like it.

The more I shopped, the more reasonable $34 seemed. Until finally I broke down and sprinted back to the produce aisle eager to get my hands on the fungus before someone else beat me.

Leaving the market with my prize, I knew at once what I had to do. I took a picture of it and sent it to Don Schneider.

Don and his love

Don and his love

“Where did you get it!???” he demanded.

At the Japanese market, I told him. I also mentioned how much I paid, and that it was the only one there. And the expletives began to fly.

“Don’t worry,” I soothed his broken heart, “I’m going to share it with you.”

We commenced at our house a couple nights later, and I produced the largess from the fridge for all to admire. Once again, the kitchen was filled with that seductive, intoxicating, earthy scent.

What would I do with the tuber? A week before, I’d driven to LAX and picked up a thousand-dollar shipment of rare meats sent to me by my meat-purveyor-friend-who-shall-remain-nameless in Portland. Two nights before, I’d shaved off a knobby extremity from the truffle to top some pan-grilled rare Snake River Farms wagyu zabuton steak. This evening, besides shaving it directly onto Don’s tongue, I would shower shavings onto a butterflied Spanish Iberico pork shoulder cooked to a crispy medium rare on a blazing grill.

Tagliatelle with fresh Perigord truffle

Tagliatelle with fresh Perigord truffle

With truffle, you want to do as little as possible so you can enjoy the unique fragrance and subtle taste. In France, they often serve with over scrambled eggs, which I think is just silly. But I did use a few fresh eggs from our coop kneaded into some King Arthur flour to make some wide tagliatelle noodles, which I served dressed simply with some raw sweet cream butter, grated parmesan, some Maldon salt… and of course, a generous pile of Perigord truffle shavings.

Stop by this weekend if you’re in the neighborhood. I’ve still got a third of the truffle left!

You’ve got a truffle too?? Here’s my tagliatelle recipe. Enjoy!

*    *    *

Fresh tagliatelle with black Perigord truffle
serves 4

1 cup flour
2 fresh eggs
4 tbsp. sweet cream butter
4 tbsp. grated parmesan
Maldon salt to taste
fresh black Perigord truffle to taste

Place flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, into which you will crack the two eggs. Working out from the center with a fork, mix the eggs into the flour until incorporated. Texture should be sticky but not wet. If the dough is too wet, add a little flour; if it is too dry, add water a tablespoon at a time.

With a rubber spatula, turn the dough out onto a floured board and begin kneading. Knead for 8 – 10 minutes, until smooth and silky. Dust with flour, wrap in plastic and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Unless you have one of those groovy machines that makes pasta, you will need a large flat, smooth surface to roll your dough out. I use my kitchen countertop, but you can also use a large breadboard or cutting board. Divide the dough in 4 pieces, flour your surface, and with a rolling pin, roll the dough out as thin as possible (you should be able to see your hand through the dough when you lift it.) Slice into noodle strips 1 – 2 inches wide, and set aside to dry. Repeat until you’ve created tagliatelle with all the dough.

Put a large pot of water with a teaspoon of table salt over high heat. When it boils, drop in the tagliatelle and cook until al dente, about 60 to 90 seconds.

Drain pasta in a colander, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water. Return pasta to pan and toss with reserved pasta water and 2 tbsp. butter. Divide pasta between four plates, and top each pasta with 1/2 tbsp. remaining butter. As the butter begins to melt, sprinkle each dish with Maldon salt and parmesan cheese.

Finally, shave black truffle to your taste over the top of each dish of pasta and serve. (*Note: Italian white Alba truffles would be equally good with this dish, as would Oregon black or white truffles.)

21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. apriljulianne
    Sep 12, 2014 @ 14:04:41

    This is my favorite way to eat truffles. I ❤ homemade tagliatelle & truffles! I can smell & taste this dish from here. Wishing we were still in Topanga…..


  2. Benjamin Thompson
    Sep 12, 2014 @ 14:55:03

    Lucky you. I also enjoy the truffle with scrambled eggs that have been whipped with heavy cream, and just a couple chunks of pancetta. I vote the final third of your truffle goes into a risotto this evening.


  3. "Cheffie Cooks"
    Sep 12, 2014 @ 17:34:56

    I am envious! Enjoy the remaining third! Cheryl


  4. pal-O
    Sep 13, 2014 @ 04:37:26

    Yer killing me truffle king!! I got in my car and made it to the edge of the city but thought that the truffle would probably be gone before I drove the 3000 miles to Topanga.


  5. Françoise La Prune
    Sep 13, 2014 @ 10:07:31

    Would love to eat the pasta on the picture right now! 🙂


  6. Nonie Shore
    Sep 13, 2014 @ 15:57:41

    How cool Sean. My Mom used to put shavings on her incredible fettucini alfredo!


  7. Jessamine in PDX
    Sep 16, 2014 @ 23:32:02

    Yes, yes, yes! I am finally (finally!) catching up on my reading since Wild About Game and was hopeful that you had cooked up some tasty meats in my absence. You outdid yourself with decadence pairing zabuton with truffle. =) But that pasta…oh god, that pasta — it looks incredible!


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