truffles. lots of truffles.

Besides just going at it and stuffing your face with these aromatic, umami nuggets of gold- I have a couple ideas for how to use truffles in the kitchen.

Last weekend, I headed over to the truffle festival in San Miniato with Girl in Florence, her hubby-to-be and met up with one of our foodie idols, Emiko Davies. Wow, that’s a lot of name dropping but I must give cred since Emiko and her sommelier master hubby (sounds like a team!) organized a rather decadent day for us and it wouldn’t have been possible without either of them for the truffle-y goods I got my paws on.

truffle polpette, sformatino and tiny panini

Our day started with a picnic lunch on the terrace of a cherished gourmet butcher, where I got some delicious truffle sausage and spuma di gota (whipped cheek fat from heritage cinta senese). At Sergio Falaschi’s 3 generational butcher shop, I can confidently say I noshed on the best fennel salami finocchiona to date.

Wine and meat overlooking the Tuscan hills…what else about my life sucks?

San Miniato is a charismatic village totally worth a day-trip from Florence, Pisa or Siena. From Florence, you can easily get there by train in less than an hour or rent a car for the day and drive there in a cinch. As you walk through the hilly town, you are rewarded with stunning views of the characteristic Tuscan countryside. What’s best is that you’re rewarded even more by the whiffs of truffle wafting from the little delis, butchers and food shops showcasing the local culinary gold. If you’re a big foodie with a love for scenic towns, San Miniato is a visit for you.

I’ve been told that when the truffle festival isn’t going, the town can be quite sleepy. I honestly don’t see the problem with that- where there’s a truffle, there’s a way.

Checkin’ the goods

The good news is that if you are reading this now, you still have time to catch the San Miniato Truffle Festival this weekend and the next (last weekend of November). If you’re like me, and want to buy everything in sight, you might want to know how to apply your truffle goods without it getting boring. Also, you might want to know how to shop for them. For me, I try to inspect each place. I’m not too fussed with places or brands which you can find in the supermarket like Savitar, but I try to read the ingredients and pick out goods that have the least amount of ingredients possible. And I’m not a fan of truffle oil. Why? Because olive oil has a strong flavor and usually truffle oil makers add a lot of flavorings and aromas which stay with you for hours after you eat it. I much prefer truffle butter and truffle honey as these are way better flavor preservers for real truffle chunks than oil in my opinion. Plus, there are more fun culinary applications for them.

My truffle tips:

If you get a whole truffle, don’t bother unless you have a truffle specific slicer. Like a really small mandolin. Truffles need to be thinly shaved, not sliced in chunks. It would be a waste in both material and flavor as the thinner you slice, the more you can distribute the flavor.

The best ideas for using fresh, shaved truffles are:

  • Fresh Egg Pasta tossed with butter
  • Shaved on an egg frittata
  • On Burrata cheese
  • On any mozzarella
  • Shaved on grilled meat
  • On Crostini with cured lardo
  • Even on vanilla/crema gelato, maybe with a touch of truffle honey!
  • Shaved on potato-filled tortellini
  • Risotto
  • Pizza Bianca
  • green salad
  • whipped with cooked potato and spread onto a soft bread roll- pair with a smidge of bubbly.
Truffle slicer exhibit A

For truffle enhanced products, my go-to are like I said truffle butter, honey and truffle salt. I think the cheese spread truffle products are gross, i.e. they have way too many ingredients and flavors added. I also think truffle sauces are a gimmick (although I would not say no to some on a slice of bread) because they are usually just overpriced jars of mushroom spread since the makers cut in chopped mushrooms to give the sauce it’s bulky meat. Also they use crappy oil to carry the product too.

Uses/Ideas for Truffle Butter:

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Crostini/Toast
  • Melting on top baked potatoes
  • Whisking in with fresh pasta and then Emiko says to proceed to shaving fresh truffle on top.
  • Spreading on toasted crostini, adding sliced pears (or I wonder even prosciutto cotto) and then drizzling truffle honey on top
  • Making a simple risotto and then melting some in to finish after risotto has cooked
  • Any sort of cooked grains, like farro
  • Spreading on a pizza crust base and then adding simple toppings like arugula (but no tomato sauce!)
  • Mixing with fresh popped popcorn, letting the heat melt the butter. Don’t heat or cook with truffle butter- I suspect it will loose a lot of flavor especially if made with white truffles.
  • Melting into polenta
    Truffle Honey on Buttered Schiacciata

Uses/Ideas for Truffle Honey:

  • Drizzled on top of sliced pears
  • On Fresh Mozzarella
  • On Fresh Ricotta or most fresh, soft cheeses like Brie.
  • On aged Parmesean for an umami overdose with a sweet contrast
  • Drizzled on salads
  • Also on popcorn!
  • On crispy bacon or speck for a sweet, salty and umami contrast
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Finishing drizzle for crostini. I recently played with farro bread toasts/crostini with soft gorgonzola, sliced pears and truffle honey on top.
  • Slice focaccia with regular farmstead-style butter spread on and then dousing some truffle honey on as either a snack or to served with a salad.
  • Use in crepes: crepe with truffle honey and fresh cheese of choice

Uses/Ideas for Truffle Salt:

  • Baked root vegetables- especially rainbow carrots!
  • To salt homemade kale chips
  • Mashed potatoes
  • French fries or sliced potato wedges. Basically anything to do with a tuber.
  • Grilled veggies- especially zucchini!
  • Finishing salt for raw veggie carpaccio like zucchini or mixed in with olive oil as a raw veggie stick/crudite dip.
  • Popcorn!
  • Eggs! Any way!
  • Poultry
  • Savory breads
  • Polenta or sprinkling on freshly fried polenta
  • Finishing salt on fried foods, mostly vegetables or even fried mozzarella balls
  • on fresh, sliced or quartered tomatoes. Especially heirloom tomatoes!
  • on avocado toast, which is apparently all the rage.

The list could probably go on and on- do you have any tips and truffle secrets you’d like to share? Comment below! Need tips for getting to San Miniato? Looking for a truffle hunt? Contact me- I’m happy to help.

In your hunt for truffles,

Curious Appetite

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1 Comment on How to use truffles in the kitchen

  1. GirlinFlorence
    November 20, 2015 at 3:45 am (1 year ago)

    Great article Coral! My favorite way to eat truffles is over a fried or baked egg, and I liked your ideas for truffle salt too. Truffle popcorn is going to happen soon at my house!

    Reply

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