Truffles are exotic, but there are plenty of ways you can incorporate a little truffle magic into your life. Now grown widely across Australia, you can purchase freshly-harvested truffles for about $35/10g.
1. Truffle butter
About 10 grams of black truffle will truffle about 250 grams of butter. Finely chop the black truffle until it resembles grated chocolate. Mash 250 grams good quality butter until soft. Add finely chopped truffle and combine until the truffle is evenly mixed through. You can add a dash of truffle oil if desired. Shape the truffled butter into a log and wrap in baking paper. Keep refrigerated. Slice off discs of butter to garnish a beautifully cooked steak, stir the butter through pasta or have truffle butter on toast. Use truffle butter within five days.
2. In potato mash
Mash steamed potatoes to the desired consistency. Using a stick blender, add truffle oil and truffle butter (above) to taste and work through the mash until dispersed evenly. Garnish with finely chopped truffle and a little truffle oil. For an extra touch of decadence, make like a French chef and serve your mash in a copper saucepan. Voila!
3. Scrambled eggs with truffles
Take two truffled eggs per person and lightly whisk with a dash of full-cream milk. Heat a heavy cast-iron pan over medium heat and melt a disc of truffle butter, coating the pan. Pour the egg mixture in and add two more discs of truffle butter. Cook the eggs gently over low-medium heat, gently folding the mixture in from the outside to the inside of the pan as it cooks. Take off the heat before the eggs are cooked right through, as the mixture will keep cooking for a short time in the pan. Serve on thickly cut toast with truffle butter. Garnish with fresh black truffle finely shaved over the top of the eggs. Heaven.
4. Truffled mushroom risotto
Using 1 cup of the arborio rice in which you have been storing your truffles (see below), make a white risotto base using your truffle butter instead of oil to sweat the onion, 2 litres of porcini mushroom, chicken or vegetable stock and 1/2 cup of white wine. While the risotto is cooking, chop 4-6 swiss brown or large field mushrooms into chunky slices and set aside. Shave 10-15 grams black truffle and set aside. Finely chop 10 grams black truffle and set aside. Just as the risotto is nearly cooked, add the finely chopped truffle and stir through. Add the mushrooms to the risotto mixture and gently stir through. Serve the risotto piping hot in flat bowls, garnished with shavings of black truffle and some finely grated pecorino. Serves four.
Tips on storing truffles
Truffles emit moisture as they age, so they need to be stored carefully to prevent rotting. The best way to store truffles and incidentally, the best way to get value for money, is to place them into a storage container filled with uncooked Aborio rice, together with a few uncooked eggs.* The container should be stored in the fridge. The egg shells are porous and will take up the truffle aroma and flavour within a day or two. The rice too will absorb the truffle aroma while keeping the truffles dry. You can cook the eggs and replace them with new ones every few days. The rice will make a delicious risotto.
Fresh truffles will keep this way for at least two weeks. But left in the open they will go mouldy within days, and left unprotected in the fridge the will go mouldy after about one week. The key is to keep the truffles as dry as possible.
* In Australia, the risk from salmonella in eggs comes from salmonella bacteria in the poo on the outside of dirty eggs. Because of this the egg industry washes the eggs. If you have backyard hens, wash the eggs in very warm water before you use them in raw dishes such as mayo. (Richard Cornish, Brain Food column at goodfood.com.au, May 28, 2013).
According to Sara Hinchey, a.k.a the truffle hound: www.trufflehound.com.au
Melbourne truffle events in July
The Truffle Hound will be holding truffle cooking workshops on July 6, 7, 13 and 14 in Carlton, $115 per person. For details see www.trufflehound.com.au.
The Madame Truffles annual pop-up will be open from July 4 until August 10 at 20 Yarra Place, South Melbourne (St Ali next door). Stop by to purchase freshly harvested truffles from WA, TAS, NSW and VIC. Each region produces truffles with distinct aromas and flavours, and people will once again be able to sniff out the differences for themselves. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whisky and truffle tasting
Madame Truffles partners with Whisky and Alement Bar on Saturday July 20 (270 Russell Street, city). Bookings: email@example.com or 03 9654 1284. Bookings online from June 24.
Family-friendly truffle dinner
In partnership with St Ali and chef Andrew Gale, Madame Truffles will host a truffle dinner for the whole family. Saturday July 27, St Ali South (12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne). Reservations from July 1, contact St Ali South (9686 2990).