To cook or not to cook truffles

From Rosario Safina’s book Truffles, Ultimate Luxury Everyday Pleasure

Fresh white truffles should never be cooked. They should be warmed, though; gentle heat brings out their intoxicating fragrance, but too much will destroy it. That is why white truffles are usually shaved or grated over a plate of warm pasta, or another dish, after it is set in front of the diner – the better to swoon over them.

Black winter truffles can be served raw, sliced paper-thin and incorporated into saldas, for example, but their flavor is usually enhanced when they are warmed or cooked. Long cooking is not generally advised, however, because it will mute their perfume.

Although summer truffles are sometimes cooked, they are their best raw or just warmed. And because they don’t have the overpowering fragrance of white or black truffles, they really should be used in generous amounts. Some chefs boost the flavor of summer truffle dishes by adding truffle juice or garnishing them with truffle oil. Summer truffles are especially good in salads, sliced paper-thin in a shower over dressed greens and tossed with them so they absorb some of the vinaigrette.

Truffles have a remarkable affinity for a wide variety of foods, including some of the most humble. Eggs are one of the most notable, and both black and white truffles appear frequently as their companions. Perhaps because they grow underground, thy pair well with root vegetables, from lowly parsnip to potatoes – potatoes and truffles are one of the most satisfying pairings of all. But veal, scallops, and lobsters, as do certain cheeses – Parmesan and Taleggio, for example – which echo the pungent, earthy flavor.

Although Colette preferred her truffles whole, in noble splendor, even she agreed that they benefited from some fat: “a score or so of smallish strips of bacon, fat, but not too fat, which will give body to the stock (in which the truffles cook).”
Fat, from bacon to cream or butter to foie gras, always brings out the flavor of other ingredients. Grated or sliced black truffles simmered briefly in heavy cream make a delicious sauce, and whole black truffles can be wrapped in pork belly or pancetta before they are baked or roasted. Classic sauce perigueux often contains foie gras in addition to black truffles that give it its name.

Bresaola with Black Truffle Oil

Recipe from Rosario Safina’s book Truffles, Ultimate Luxury Everyday Pleasure


6 to 8 ounces thinly sliced bresaola
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons da rosario organic black truffle oil
fleur du sel or other coarse salt (optional)
coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

Arrange the bresaola “flower petal” fashion, overlapping the slices slightly in the center as necessary, on 4 salad plates. Drizzle with the truffle oil, and sprinkle with a little fleur de sel, if using. Season with coarse black pepper, garnish with the parsley, and serve at once.
Serves 4

Sommelier Wine Suggestion: Calera “Central Coast” Pinot Noir 1996, California

Note: Look for bresaola in specialty Italian and other gourmet markets. Store it well-wrapped in the refrigerator and plan to use within a day. Like other cured meats, bresaola goes well with truffles.

Land of Organic Truffles

In a land with a bent for agriculture, immersed in the beautiful landscape of Umbrian valleys, there is a farm called "Profumi Umbri". The company, which is only run by family members, turned to organic agriculture about 10 years ago.
Having accrued a long experience in the traditional farming business with leading industrial groups, the owners realized that the only way to recover a correct balance between production and processing requirements was to devote to organic agriculture. This was also an ethical decision, because profits cannot be the only focus of business, but a company must also care for product quality and reliability.

The land occupied by the farm was especially suitable, because there are natural ditches all around its perimeter that shield it from any contamination from adjacent lands.
Over the years, the company has diversified production with olive trees and truffles on one of the largest farming lands in Umbria. Besides cultivation methods, the company pays special attention to harvest and process of farming products. Olives are gathered manually and squeezed in 24 hours. Truffles are gathered only in restricted periods of the year, according to the regional regulation and only with the help of dogs. Only mature mushroom and truffle bodies are harvested without damaging the rest of the cultivation, which is a wealth for the company.

The experience accrued has allowed the farm to win market shares with high-quality products and especially with seasonings that are flavored with white and black truffles and boletus mushrooms.
Product labels describe the composition of seasonings, made with natural products such as 100% pure olive oil and natural aromas from organic agriculture.
Based on its long experience, the farm can obtain natural seasonings without the use of synthetic aromas, so that truffles, an outstanding produce of the Umbria region, can be enhanced by pure olive oil.

This is the wonderful company that collaborates with Rosario Safina, the country’s foremost expert on truffles, in the introduction of the one and only USDA-certified truffle oil in the United States.