The unique flavour of truffles is a seasonal must.
Truffle season is here and, as much as I would love to pretend I’ve been scouring British woodland for fungi, mine came in a jar, courtesy of the local Italian delicatessen. Fresh ones are available, but might require a separate mortgage. Nonetheless, the unique flavour of these knobbly black balls–a sort of charming, mossy sock–is a seasonal must.
Roasted pheasant with black-truffle and Parmesan ravioli (serves 4)
2 red onions, halved
8 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary
8 rashers unsmoked bacon
200ml red wine
3 cloves garlic, minced
100g mushrooms, finely diced
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
30ml red wine
80g Parmesan, plus more for grating over the dish
400g 00-grade pasta flour
A pinch of sea salt
4 free-range eggs
3 preserved black truffles
1 more egg, beaten
100g butter, melted for drizzling
Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Place the pheasants in a roasting dish, rub each one with butter and then stuff with the halved red onions and herbs. Place two rashers of bacon over each bird, season well and pour the wine in, before roasting for about 35–45 minutes, depending on size. Once cooked, cover with foil and rest for 10 minutes.
Gently fry the garlic and mushrooms, together with the herbs, in a little olive oil until soft. Add the red wine and seasoning and cook until reduced. Remove the herbs before adding the Parmesan, stir well and set aside.
Pour the flour and sea salt into a bowl, creating a well in the centre, and crack the eggs into it. Beat the eggs with a fork, then start to pull the flour in gradually, until it comes together in a shaggy pile. Tip onto a clean surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. If in doubt, keep kneading. Cover the dough with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
Next, turn the dough through a pasta machine to create thin sheets. Place small mounds of the mushroom filling onto a sheet, topping each one with a thin slice of truffle. Paint around the filling with beaten egg to seal, top with a second sheet of pasta and cut out the ravioli. Dust with flour and cover until ready to cook, which will take three minutes in a large pan of boiling water.
Serve the roasted pheasants, using some of the pan juices, with the ravioli (the pasta would also work alone, as a starter). Drizzle the ravioli with melted butter and top with a good grating of Parmesan, followed by a grating of black truffle. The aroma will be amazing.
More ways with black truffles
Black-truffle eggs and soldiers
Add a little glamour to breakfast simply by storing eggs and black truffles in the same container in your fridge—after a couple of days, the eggs will be infused with flavour. Boil them as usual and serve with toast soldiers.
Smart mushrooms on toast
A kitchen supper becomes a dinner-party starter with the addition of black truffle. Fry mushrooms and garlic in a splash of olive oil and, once cooked, cover with chicken stock. Simmer gently until reduced a little, season well, add a dollop of cream and spoon onto toasted sourdough. Grate truffle over the top and serve.
Linguini with black truffles
Cook pasta, then toss with a large splash of olive oil, crushed garlic and a generous grating of Parmesan. Divide into bowls, scatter with chopped parsley and top with slices of black truffle. Simple, but a fabulous combination that doesn’t require anything else— other than a glass of wine.
Layers of flavour: Parma ham, spinach and chestnut mushrooms give this lasagne dish a lift.
Fennel is a natural companion to fish.