How to make a truffle infusion
Perigord Black Truffle
Tuber melanosporum                            Reach out.
Just a few mushroom hunters in Illinois know much about the most famous of all mushrooms--the truffle--and here’s why: Nobody in Illinois ever digs them up.
There’s a reason. Although a few truffle species do occur in Illinois, the truffles known to occur in Illinois are bland and flavorless compared with the most celebrated, aromatic species of truffles served in the finest restaurants around the world. So when Illinois mushroom hunters crave truffles, they have to purchase them from afar. Unfortunately, the exceptionally high prices commanded by those best truffle species (often exceeding $1,000 per pound) limit their use by most chefs.
Since few people in Illinois can afford to cook with truffles, there remains a widespread lack of knowledge--including lingering misconceptions--when it comes to preparing and appreciating these gems of the fungal underworld.
Know that truffle cuisine is all about the
aroma. A truffle dish, which might contain
no more than a few shavings of truffle, is
prized for the intoxicating aromas that rise
from the plate. These aromas can be
destroyed by intense heat, which is why
fresh truffles shavings are often tossed into
buttered pasta or cooked lightly in eggs
and cream sauces.
Some people think they’ve experienced
truffles after purchasing synthetic truffle oils. The essence of a good truffle has now been synthesized and infused artificially into cooking oils--and sometimes a few inferior truffle shavings are added for show. And while these imitation truffle oils are affordably priced, their counterfeit fragrance is no substitute for a legitimate truffle infusion.
This is where the beauty--and economy--of a fresh truffle reveals itself.
It is actually possible to infuse raw eggs and butter simply by storing them together with a fresh truffle in the refrigerator. Amazingly, the intense fragrance of truffles will permeate egg shells and waxed paper-wrapped butter when stored together in a covered glass bowl.
One does not need to be an expert chef to cook with truffle-infused foods. This culinary miracle requires the simplest of kitchen skills. After a few days, remove the eggs and butter from the covered bowl in the refrigerator and lock your door. Leave the truffle untouched. Heat an omelette pan and melt a spoonful of the truffle-infused butter in the skillet. Crack open a few truffle-infused eggs. Toast a few pieces of light bread and dab the warm slices with truffle butter. In a few minutes--and this effect can be guaranteed--you will be knocked out of your chair by the incredible sensory blast. Instantly you’ll realize you will never forget that moment for the rest of your life.
A good truffle infusion really is that good.