As has become standard procedure for the Kaldor/Dunning Christmas, truffles took centre stage for dinner on Christmas Eve and breakfast the following morning. Thanks to Nigel and his wonderful truffle site (www.trufflehunter.co.uk) we went large this year with a mix of fresh white winter truffles, truffle butter and minced truffle. Truffle overdrive. And while it feels like we’ve all been heavily bombarded by truffle dishes over the last 5 years they’re still a real treat if you don’t overdo them. Or if you only overdo them one day a year. Maybe two.
Truffles thee ways
We started with baked camembert with truffles and sourdough bread (the recipe for which will follow soon, kindly passed onto me by my big sis Nic). It really can’t be simpler – take a camembert, remove the paper and pop it back into the box, score the top of the cheese and pop in slices of your fresh truffle. Stick it in the oven at 180c for 30 minutes. Take it out and stick your bread in it.
That was quickly followed by wild mushroom and truffle ravioli with a truffle butter and cream sauce. It takes a little more effort this one, but definitely worth it.
Start by making your pasta dough – mix 200g of pasta flour with 6 egg yolks, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of cold water. It will be pretty tough, but don’t over work it – just bring it together into a smooth dough, wrap it in clingfilm and stick it in the fridge for an hour. Now you can make the filling – finely chop a shallot and a few handfuls of wild mushrooms, preferably chanterelles or morels. If you can’t find fancy mushrooms chestnuts mushrooms will do just fine. Fry them gently in butter, add some fresh thyme and season well. Once they’re cooked through, add a large knob of truffle butter and two teaspoons of minced truffle. Set the mix aside to cool.
Now you make the ravioli. Either with a pasta maker or a rolling pin, roll the pasta into thin sheets – as thin as you can get without any holes forming – probably about 1mm. Use semolina flour to keep them from sticking to your work surface. Take two round pastry cutters, one slightly larger than the other, and cut as many circles as you can with the dough you have made – equal amounts of each size. With the quantity I used above, you should get about 32 circles (making 16 ravioli)
Now lay out the smaller circles and stick a heaped teaspoon of the mixture in the centre of each one. Take a pastry brush and some water and brush around the edge of each circle and then place the larger circles on top, carefully ensuring there are no air pockets in the ravioli and sealing them around the edges. Dust them with semolina flour so that they don’t stick together and put them aside ready for when you want to cook them. They can sit like this for at least a day so you can do all this work in advance. At this point they should look a little like the ones in my photo above.
For the sauce, take a frying pan and melt a large block of butter with more of the minced truffle and thyme leaves, carefully add a little single cream and season well. In the meantime bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and drop in the ravioli. They’ll only need a few minutes to cook. Once the butter sauce has cooled a little, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon.
Now put three of the ravioli onto each plate, spoon over the sauce and shave fresh truffle on top. Perfect.
Since there’s a ton of butter and cream in the dish, you’ll need something a little sharp to accompany it and this goes really well – mixed leaf salad with truffle vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is really simple – finely chop garlic, dijon mustard, olive oil and white wine vinegar, salt and pepper and three teaspoons of minced truffle. I used chicory leaves (which are perfectly bitter for this), watercress and rocket. And that’s it – the perfect meal for Christmas eve.
The next day…
Ok maybe this is overdoing it, but what the heck, it’s only once a year. When you get your fresh truffles, put them in a tupperware box with half a dozen eggs – they’ll slowly take on the truffle aroma as the shells are porous. On Christmas morning, take the eggs, whisk them up, season them, stick a large block of truffle butter into a frying pan and then add the eggs. Move them around the pan gently until they start to solidify. Once you see this happening get ready to pull them off the heat – you have to have these eggs french style – nice and runny – or you’ll be missing out. As soon as they look good, take them out of the pan, shave the last bits of your fresh truffles all over them along with a handful of chopped chives. Serve with toasted sourdough.
And here’s what this year’s little beauties looked like…
Happy Christmas everyone!