You don’t cook with truffles every day. Fresh truffles are a costly affair and also not available everywhere at all times.
Therefore, many people never cook with truffles themselves, except perhaps with truffle oil, which we would only advise using in a very limited way.
For all those who have not yet dealt with the purchase of fresh truffles and their processing, we offer here a simple and not too expensive dish that will turn out great at the first try, quasi as an introduction to the immense world of truffles.
There are many different plants that are called truffles, whereby a distinction is made between “real” truffles of the genus “Tuber” and other genera of fungi. The best-known real truffles include (black) Perigord truffles and (white) Alba or Piedmont truffles. These two types are particularly exquisite, delicious, and highly priced.
Besides, there are summer truffles (Italian “Scorzone”) and winter truffles (“Moscato”). Both varieties are much cheaper and much more common. Late-ripening black truffles are sometimes also called autumn truffles or Burgundy truffles.
We came across such an autumn truffle at a mushroom merchant in the central market of our city. 24 grams for 20 euros, a good portion for two plates of the best pasta.
Truffles should look undamaged and especially have no pressure marks. They should only yield slightly to gentle pressure, i.e. they should neither be rock hard nor very elastic. Weight is more important than size. Don’t be surprised if a black truffle gives off little odour before preparation. It will develop its aroma mainly during processing.
Consume truffles on the day of purchase or the following day at the latest. To store them, wrap them loosely in kitchen paper and place them in an airtight container in the fridge, preferably in a compartment for vegetables.
We make our pasta fresh, but with the blitz method. Here we have shown how to make a classic pasta dough entirely by hand.
If you have a food processor, you can speed this up considerably.
To enable the machine to process the dough, prepare the dough mixture in stages – only 100 g flour and 1 egg at a time.
As always for pasta, the flour should be Italian “Dopio zero” (“tipo 00”), or as close to it as possible in terms of milling degree and protein content.
Running the blades of the Food Processor 4 – 5 times for a few seconds is enough to mix the ingredients well.
We processed our total of 300 g flour and 3 eggs in a few minutes and then kneaded everything into a smooth, homogeneous pasta dough in another 4 – 5 minutes. As always, this has to mature for at least 30 minutes and is wrapped in foil or covered with as small a container as possible to prevent it from drying out.
Then it’s time to roll out the dough. Pasta dough is very firm and its processing is quite a strenuous affair for which you need strength and patience. It works particularly well with an Italian rolling pin, the very long matarello, but any other rolling pin will do as well.
At the beginning, it is advisable to flatten the ball of dough before you start rolling.
Then roll and rotate the dough a little at a time to create a surface that is both as long and as wide as possible (this is called a “sfoglia” in Italy).
In between, the dough should be rolled up again and again with the rolling pin and rolled over its layers, so that it becomes thinner more quickly and evenly.
We now cut the finished sfoglia into squares of approx. 4 cm edge length. Of course you can do this with a knife, but it is even quicker and easier with the right tool, the “bicicletta”.
After that, we have a lot of square pieces of dough and only very few offcuts. We will soon show how these can be further used as well.
From these squares, we now make one of our absolute favourite noodles, which you can’t buy, in just a few simple steps: Sopressini.
This pasta shape is virtually nowhere to be found, which we can’t understand at all, because it is easy to make, very elegant and absorbs sauces sensationally.
First take a square and press two opposite corners together. If the dough does not stick, spread a drop of water on it. When pressing pasta dough together, the rule is always that the doubled area should be pressed so firmly that it is then about as thick again as one layer of dough before.
Now take this shape in both hands, with the tip facing up. Then bend the other corners downwards and press them together.
One noodle done:
It took two of us about 7 minutes in total, and we had a lot of fun doing it.
Now for the truffle. Summer, winter and autumn truffles are less aromatic (and therefore much cheaper) than Perigord and Alba truffles. You should therefore cook them at least partially so that they develop their full flavour.
We grate half of our truffle into fine strips with an ordinary grater. But it should be a sharp one, because a truffle like this is quite firm. We always recommend the Microplane graters.
The other half is sliced very finely. You can buy special truffle slicers for this, which are not expensive at all. But a vegetable slicer works just as well. If you like to cook frequently, you should buy a vegetable slicer, preferably a so-called mandolin.
The actual cooking is extremely quick, because: It’s all about the flavour of the truffle, which we want to enhance as much as possible and not cover up with anything. Therefore, other spices are hardly used and only ingredients that are suitable as flavour carriers are used – i.e. fat 😉
First melt a good portion of butter over medium heat. Avoid too high a temperature to preserve the truffle aroma. Then add the finely grated half of the truffle and a little crème fraîche to the butter.
The pasta can now be added to the cooking water – it takes less than 5 minutes. As always, use a very large pot with lots of water and plenty of salt – the cooking water should be almost as salty as the sea. This is especially true for homemade fresh pasta, where you should not add salt to the dough.
Gradually add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to your sauce until it has the consistency you want. The ingredients should combine homogeneously, but never boil. This is the way to bring out the full flavour of the truffle. Season very carefully with salt and black pepper.
Now we add a little very finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Please always buy it in one piece and grate it yourself, what is sold in grated form is not what you want.
Now drain the pasta and mix gently but thoroughly with the sauce so that it coats the pasta well. There is no need to rush, this dish does not have to be served very hot.
Finally, arrange the pasta on deep plates and cover with the truffle shavings.
And may the taste be with you.
Ingredients (for 2 people):
20 – 30 g summer, winter or autumn truffles (more for the cheaper summer truffles)
300 g flour tipo 00
80 – 100 g butter
60 – 80 g crème fraîche
50 g Parmigiano Reggiano
A little salt and pepper