Classic Truffle Preparations & Absolute Indulgences

by Chef Mark Tafoya

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“Away with all this slicing, this dicing, and this grating, this peeling of truffles!  Can they not love it for itself?  If you do love it, pay its ransom royally — or keep away from it altogether.  But once having bought it, eat it on its own, scented and grainy skinned, eat it like the vegetable it is, hot and served in magnificent quantities.”
— Colette

Colette’s admonition was often taken to heart in days of old, when truffles were much more prodigious.  Escoffier, the famous author of the definitive French cookbook le Guide Culinaire, includes several truffle recipes in his tome, among them, the following:

Truffes sous la cendre: Truffles under the Ashes

Take some large truffles and clean them well.  Season them with salt and pepper and a few drops of liqueur brandy; completely enclose them in a layer of pâte à choux, and bake them in the oven (or in the embers of a fire) for twenty-five to thirty minutes.  Serve them in the pâte à choux.

[Chef’s Note:  You could adapt this by wrapping the truffle in pancetta and then placing it in foil with the liqueur and a small amount of a rich stock, omitting the pâte à choux.]

Truffes à la crème: Truffles in Cream

Cut one pound of raw, peeled truffles into thick slices.  Season them with salt and pepper, and cook them very gently in two ounces of butter and a few drops of burnt liqueur brandy.

Reduce to a stiff consistency ½ pint of cream with three tablespoons of béchamel sauce; add some truffle cooking liquor and the necessary quantity of cream; complete with two ounces of best butter; mix the truffles with this sauce, and serve in a vol-au-vent crust.

[Chef’s Note:  If you come across a pound of raw truffles, let me know, and I’ll be over in a few minutes!]

Photo: Kelly Cline
Recipes and quote courtesy of Mark Tafoya

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