Truffles are earthy, luxurious; they’re sensual – just downright sexy. And wildly expensive. I am speaking of the earthy, savory funghi truffles – not the chocolates. They’re a splurge for a celebration or a gift for people who do not need any more “things” in their lives.
They’re versatile. Shave them into risotto or into a buttery pasta. They lend a musty, ground-loving aroma and taste to the dishes. Put a few shavings in scrambled eggs and make the all-American breakfast a feast.
White truffles are one of the the most expensive food products we have. A small white truffle could set you back over one hundred dollars. But a few small black truffles run about $40. Expensive enough to not throw into your grocery cart on impulse, but just affordable enough for someone special in your life.
In Italy, most black truffles come from Umbria. Black truffle hunting season is November through March. Festivals are held in their honor. These delicacies grow underground and are found on the roots of oak, willow or linden trees. The flavor and aroma will change according to the type of tree. Because they grow underground, truffle hunters use a pig or a trained “mongrel” dog. They believe purebred dogs cannot detect the truffle scent!
If you are the lucky recipient of black truffles, take care with them. Gently run them under cold water and brush lightly to remove any grit. Do not cook them. Shave them with a grater or use a mortar and pestle and add in the pieces as a finishing touch to your pasta or risotto. In Umbria, the truffles are most often used in eggs or as a topping for crostini. They mix truffle shavings with a little olive oil and drizzle it on lightly toasted bread.
I was given three small black truffles and wanted to share the wealth. I made truffle butter so everyone could smear it on their bread and have a taste. The next morning, I shaved them into scrambled eggs during the last few minutes of cooking.
Truffle Butter Ingredients
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 1-2 small black truffles
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
Truffle Butter Preparation
- Put out butter to soften.
- With a grater, shave truffle slices into the butter.
- Add the sea salt.
- With the back of a soup spoon, slowly combine. Make sure the truffles are spaced evenly throughout the butter.
- Put in a small ramekin, cover and refrigerate until ready to use..
- Serve with Italian bread.
Truffled butter looks like a savory “cookies and cream.” Clouds of butter speckled with alternate dark slivers of shine and small bumps. And the anticipation of the first bite is in the aroma. Truffles from Umbria can be found at Kowalski’s and Lunds & Byerly’s. Check the expiration date. You want the freshest truffle possible to enjoy its earthy goodness.