PASTA WITH FRESH TRUFFLE
This authentic pasta dish is simple and it relies on two basic principles; perfect base ingredients and an understanding of the balance of flavour and texture of the pasta to enjoy your fresh truffles at their best.
In Alba, the world's capital of white truffles, Tajarin pasta is used. It has a very high egg yolk content and is a thinner version of spaghetti. If you prefer a slightly thicker pasta then spaghetti, linguine or at the very most in terms of thickness, fettuccine will work as a substitute.
The Tajarin is noodle-like in thickness, the biggest benefit of using this type of pasta is not only the wholesome texture on the palate but also the thin ribbons allow the flavour of truffle to work its way through the butter coated strands obtaining a much more fulfilling experience as opposed to a much lower truffle to pasta ratio.
Quite often the pasta is cooked, tossed in butter then served on a warm plate with the truffles sliced over it at the table. This method has a major flaw in that the amount of butter, if not measured, can be too much or too little so you end up with dry sticky pasta or a greasy one. The experience is far greater if every mouthful from start to finish is as balanced as the last.
The use of good quality unsalted butter is paramount, the pasta should be homemade or bought fresh, alternatively a very high-quality bronze die, dried pasta will suffice.
The use of parmesan is optional but this recipe calls for it, however, a mild parmesan is preferred as not to overpower the flavour of the white truffle. This method requires making a sauce from water/stock, butter and parmesan to coat the pasta perfectly offering the ultimate addition to fresh pasta which is both light and flavoursome. If you are using dried pasta a basic rule is to double the sauce recipe as dried pasta once drained is much more thirsty. Another piece of advice is if you are cooking for large quantities coat the pasta in four portion batches.
250g Tajarin or Fettucine Pasta
40g Fresh White Truffle (works the same with Black Truffles)
250ml Water or Fresh Chicken/Vegetable Stock
200g Cold diced unsalted butter
75g Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Large heavyweight saucepan
Large fine sieve or colander
4 Pasta bowls (pre-heated)
Microplane grater or parmesan grater
Large frying pan or large sauté pan
Remove the fresh truffle from the fridge at least an hour before serving. Wash carefully under cold running water, with a small brush remove any excess dirt and dry with a paper towel. Once the truffle has reached room temperature it will release a far greater aroma.
In the large heavyweight saucepan bring approx 1 Litre of water to the boil. Meanwhile in the small pan bring the 250ml of water/stock to a rapid boil, once the small pan's liquid is boiling remove from the heat and add the cold butter, whisk quickly until the butter has emulsified with the water, return to a low heat then add the grated parmesan and whisk until it is all melted. At this point you should have a nice emulsified sauce that will act as a coating for the fresh pasta, season well, taste then set aside.
Once the pasta water has reached the boil add a sprinkle of salt then add the pasta, bring back to the boil, stirring occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Cook the fresh pasta for no more than 3 minutes or until 'a la denté'. When the pasta is cooked pour into the sieve and shake off any excess water. While the pasta is resting, place the large frying pan over moderate heat, once the pan has warmed up (not hot) add the sauce and bring to a rolling boil. Add the cooked pasta and stir rapidly until the pasta is completely coated. Check the seasoning then divide into the 4 pre-heated bowls. Any additional sauce can be spooned over the pasta allowing a nice sauce to collect at the bottom of the bowl.
Take the bowls of pasta to the table and using the truffle slicer on the thinnest setting shave the fresh truffle over the top. A standard restaurant portion is around 7-8 shavings, which is around 3-4grams per person. For this dish, we recommend at least 10-12 shavings which is around 6-8grams per person. Though it is better to shave the truffles once at the beginning and again halfway through the dish.