Tips for cooking with Truffle

Cooking with truffle

Truffles are powerful, yet delicate too. The aroma can be lost, or even the taste destroyed, here are some hints on cooking with them.
There is no need for complex recipes, generally a simple dish best showcases their unique flavour and aroma.
They are a superb flavour enhancer, with a properly ripe truffle, the correct techniques & ingredients, they are capable of 1+1=5 synergy.

"Black truffle is an ingredient, not a garnish"

A bit of truffle shaved on top is important part of presentation, and nicely showcases the fragile portion of the fresh aroma, but it does not release the full potential of the truffle. The bulk of the truffle in the dish should be incorporated into the food in some way, where the key factors in releasing it's best qualities are generally temperature, a fat component, salt and exposure time.

  • Too high a temperature will drive off a large amount of the aroma, (though not necessarily the flavour) whereas gentle heat will help release it into the food. Generally the truffle is better incorporated towards the end of cooking, but there are exceptions. Surprisingly it can even handle being roasted under the skin of a chicken, where the flavour is driven deep inside (74 Celsius is well done). 
  • The aroma is captured superbly by any fatty substance like cream, butter, olive oil, meat fats, egg yolk. As an exception to the temperature, it's possible to infuse eggs in their shell, but it still performs better if later combined with cream and salt.
  • Salt helps realise the flavour of truffle, even if you prefer to avoid salt in cooking. If you find yourself wondering if you've used enough truffle, or why the dish isn't working try a little more salt on a portion of the food, and if it increases the truffle presence significantly, then season the rest of the dish accordingly. Therefore, when using butter in any recipe, please ensure it is salted butter.
  • The final factor, which can replace some of the above, particularly temperature, is infusion. Exposure time and method are the keys to success. It may occur under slow heat, or even when cold such as eggs in a container, sitting inside a soft cheese, or mixed with butter oil or cream.

These are generalisations to consider when you are cooking. There are exceptions that also work well in different ways,
Eg. Truffle shaved onto pumpkin soup before the surface chills is a case where shaving on top actually works, the heat of the soup, with cream for fat content rapidly absorb the flavour into the top layer of soup.