Friday, March 6, 2009

The Mystic White Truffle of Piemonte

OK, this is my most decadent dish yet... Truffles are outrageously expensive, so when I found real truffle butter at my favorite cheese shop, Venissimo. I did a happy dance in the store, made my purchase and quickly left, having embarrassed myself.

I have actually been storing this butter.... waiting.... wanting.... needing to do something with my coveted treasure, for about 2 weeks now. Whatever it was, it needed to be perfect. After all, it's not everyday I have access to the supreme White Truffle of Alba.

I had a truffle risotto recipe that calls for black truffles, however, black truffles and white truffles are very different, and I don't mean just in color. White truffle flavor is susceptible to heat, thus it should not be cooked lest the flavor diminish. Where as a Black truffle's flavor actually improves once exposed to the heat. I am not suggesting that you go throw one on the barby or anything, but a little minor cooking will cause the flavor to bloom. So, I modified my recipe to take this into account.

Rice, I must have rice... I had Arborio, but that is a pretty standard risotto rice. I have used Carnaroli before, but tend to stick to Arborio cause it is the easiest to find. I put a call out on BakeSpace to one of the members, DajaD. She lives in Italy, so I was hoping she could help me find a direction. She suggested Carnaroli or Vialone Nano. I have never used this Vialone Nano famed rice from Venice, but I was willing to give it a whirl. Luckily, I knew where to find it. In Little Italy. The Mona Lisa Deli, across the street from Assenti's Pasta where I picked up my Sepia Linguine. Woo Hoo! I had almost everything I needed.

The final issue was stock... I had planned on using the turkey stock I have in my freezer from Thanksgiving but Duck stock was also an option. Caught in a conundrum, I realized I was going to have to consult the "ultimate source of all cooking knowledge" and called my mom. And sure enough, one thing I had not considered was brought to my attention. Yes, it's true that turkey stock has a rounder flavor than chicken, it also has a slight bitterness to it that would more than likely not bring out the truffle's full potential. Something else I had not considered was lamb stock. I had been so hung up on poultry and game birds that it completely slipped my mind that lamb and veal were an option as well. Well, I do love lamb, and truffles and lamb are a classic pairing. The fact that I had a delicious Pinot Noir waiting for me at home for dinner, helped me make the final decision. Lamb Stock it was.... Finally, I have all of my ingredients.... Whew!!!!

So without further narrative.......

White Truffled Risotto

or rather Risotto al Burro di Tartufo Bianco

2 3/4 – 3 3/4 cups Lamb Stock (Duck or Veal will work as well)
1 B Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Shallot, finely chopped
1 Garlic clove, minced
1 cup Vialone Nano rice
1/4 cup Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
2 TB White Truffle Butter, plus more for serving
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the broth to simmer.
Reduce the heat to low and keep the broth warm.

In a risotto pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil.
Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, not browned (about 4 to 5 minutes).

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the rice and stir until the grains are translucent enough to see the white eye in the center of the grain, about 3 minutes.

Add the wine and stir until absorbed, about 2 minutes. (Start your 18 minute countdown)

Begin adding the broth 1 ladle full (1/4 cup) at a time,

Wait until the broth is almost completely absorbed before adding more.

When the rice is tender but firm to the bite, after 17 to 19 minutes,

Stir in the 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, then the 2 TB white truffle butter.

Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and let stand for 3 minutes before serving.

Serve the risotto in individual bowls and top each portion with about 1/2 tsp truffle butter - or - white truffle shavings if you can. (someday)

Pass more Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table.

Sit back and relax with a luscious Pinot Noir, as I did...

This wine was superb on so many levels that I don't think my review can possibly do it justice.

It was the perfect accompaniment to my Risotto, with it's earthy mushroominess. On the palate - Black currants with a hint of march violets and tobaccoed mushrooms. Scented of wild blackberries, Black Cap Raspberries, hinting at Bing Cherries and more Violets. The "feel" of the wine was like drinking silk, unlike the "velvet" of Merlot.

I was in heaven, Silk, Lamb, White Truffle, Violet, Parmigiano-Reggiano.

It cant get any better than this!!!


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