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Have you ever wanted to know how to cook a truffle?
Lots of people have!
It’s sometimes hard to imagine ever having a chance to use such an incredible and oftentimes pricey ingredient, but it may be easier than you think to get your hands on a truffle and start cooking.
But what are truffles anyway?
Basically, they’re a type of fungus related to the mushroom, and they’re edible. They grow on the roots of certain types of trees—mostly nut trees—and can usually be found around the European countryside. They form a symbiotic relationship with the trees and come to fruition in the fall and winter. When harvested, certain types of truffles can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In this article, you’ll learn how to cook with truffles no matter what form they take. You’ll understand cooking with black and white fresh truffles, frozen truffles, truffle butter, truffle oil, and even truffle sauce. By the time you’ve finished reading through this information, you’ll be ready to head to your kitchen and learn how to cook that truffles hands-on, too!
It’s time to get started. Let’s discussing cooking with truffles!
Cooking with Different Truffles
There are a lot of different types of truffle products, and even different variations on natural, fresh truffles too. Knowing how to cook with them can be complicated and a little bit difficult if you’ve never experienced truffle preparation before. Below, you’ll find a list of each of the top six most common ways you’re likely to encounter truffles on their own or in different products. You’ll be given a brief description of popular ways these ingredients are used, and information about how difficult or easy they might be to cook with. Read on to learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about how to cook truffles mushrooms.
Truffle Difficulty: 3
How it’s Used: There are a handful of different forms of truffle sauce, and depending on what you’re cooking, you might run into something very different from recipe to recipe. Normally, the term truffle sauce refers to one of two different products. The first and most common of these products is simply a sauce made from truffles! Most of the time, truffle sauce can be made with grated fresh or frozen truffles, or it might come from the shavings of truffles that are otherwise unfit to sell or wouldn’t sell for very high prices alone.
Truffle sauce that is meant to be served over pasta, meats, and other foods can be made at home, or it can sometimes be purchased jarred at specialty markets. It can be either thin, like a pesto, or creamy, although most recipes for homemade truffles sauces tend to be creamy. It can be a lot of fun to make your own truffle sauce, but remember that you don’t have to! If you can’t find this type of sauce in stores, you can always order it online.
Another type of truffle sauce you might come across is a particular kind that is made from pieces of unfit truffles as well as other types of mushrooms. Again, it’s more like a pesto, but it includes lots of different ingredients to help give your food a burst of incredible flavor. You’ll be able to taste the truffles in this product, but they won’t be as overpowering as they might be in homemade truffle sauce with grated fresh truffles. You can think of this type of truffle sauce as a sort of salsa since it incorporates large chunks of mushrooms and plenty of other flavors too. It’s usually made with black summer truffles, which are the least prized of the truffles on the market.
It’s pretty easy to cook with truffle sauce, no matter which version you choose. However, if you’re looking for something creamy and homemade with fresh truffles, you’ll need to make it yourself, which raises the difficulty level of this product a little bit.
Truffle Difficulty: 1
How it’s Used: Truffle oil is a popular product that’s gotten a lot of attention in recent years. If you’ve eaten in an upscale Italian restaurant or even had a foodie version of pizza in the past few years, then chances are you’ve tasted it! Most grocery stores these days sell truffle oil, and it’s becoming a frequent installment in kitchens around the world. It’s very affordable, which lends itself to its popularity. If you’re looking for a way to get the flavor of truffles in your cooking without having to spend a ton of money to do it, truffle oil is the answer for you.
However, it’s important to understand that most truffle oils don’t contain any actual truffle. Many of them are simply olive oils that have been flavored with a chemical found in truffles to give them a unique flavor. If you didn’t pay very much for your truffle oil, then it’s probably this variety.
However, there are types of truffle oil that have been made with actual truffles. In these instances, the olive oil base is usually infused with shavings from truffles that aren’t fit to sell completely. Truffle oil in this style can be infused with either black or white truffles, but you will definitely notice a price increase if you go this route!
Whichever type of truffle oil you choose to cook with, you’ll probably incorporate it into pasta dishes. This is the most popular way to use this product, although it also goes great on pizza or even just drizzled over freshly-baked bread. Truffle oil is also frequently served with French fries in a dish known as truffle fries. The more popular this product gets, the more likely you are to see it being used to fry just about anything. Surprisingly, it pairs very well with duck and has been used in recent years to bring a lot of flavor to this already very delicious ingredient.
It’s not hard at all to prepare dishes with truffle oil. In most cases, it can be substituted directly for olive oil, or it can be drizzled over the top of your food or mixed into pasta to give a burst of flavor without much effort at all. It’s also very easy to find, making this one of the simplest truffle products you can cook with.
Truffle Difficulty: 2
How it’s Used: Like truffle oil, truffle butter is a product that’s gaining a lot of popularity among chefs with a taste for the finer ingredients. It’s another great way to get a taste of truffles in your cooking without having to spend a lot of money. It can usually be found in tubs, much like regular butter, and it’s available from a lot of online stores as well as some specialty markets.
Also like truffle oil, not all truffle butter contains actual truffles. Some types of truffle butter have simply been infused with pieces of truffles to get the flavor without having any of the actual ingredients. Once again, if you don’t pay a lot for your butter, it probably doesn’t have any real pieces of truffle in it. However, most well-known truffle suppliers offer their own versions of truffle butter that do contain small pieces of real truffles. In these cases, they’re usually made from smaller truffles that weren’t big enough to sell, or from black summer truffles, which aren’t nearly as valuable on their own as they are in other products.
Truffle butter should always be made from fresh creamery butter so that it has a nice level of sweetness to balance out the taste of the very savory truffles. Most nicer butter is also blended with a bit of truffle oil to bring the flavors to the front of the butter even more. In some instances, truffle juice might also be incorporated for a really incredible taste.
A good quality truffle butter is a great addition to just about any type of cooking. You can use it in place of most oils when you skillet fry foods, or melt it over meats when you roast in the oven. Mix it into your sauces to thicken them and give them an amazing flavor, or serve it the old-fashioned way on top of perfectly cooked pasta. It’s a very versatile ingredient!
Truffle butter is a little more complicated to use than truffle oil, but not by much. It’s important to try a few different brands of truffle butter before you settle on one you like the best. Some include more butter than truffles, and vice-versa.
Natural White Truffle
Truffle Difficulty: 5
How it’s Used: The white truffle is the most valuable type of truffle in the world. Almost all of the expensive specimens come from the Alba region of northern Italy, and some have sold for upwards of one hundred thousand dollars a pound in the past. Of course, these are some of the most incredible specimens of white truffle in the world, and you don’t have to worry about trying to come up with that kind of money if you want to sample a slightly lower-quality version! With that said, you can expect to pay a lot more for fresh natural white truffles than for any other type of truffle on this list.
When buying white truffles, it’s important to do a little shopping around. You want to purchase fresh white truffles that are shipped directly from Europe while they’re in season if you plan to avoid dealing with frozen options. These truffles are only available for a short time, during the late fall and early winter, so it’s a good idea to go ahead and buy them when you have a chance.
White truffles are surprisingly not used in a wide variety of different types of cooking. The ways in which they are used, however, really accentuate the taste of these unique and aromatic ingredients. Some people like to stir a few truffle shavings into their scrambled eggs to give them an outstanding and well-rounded flavor that can’t be topped. Others prefer to simply shave a little bit of white truffle over meats, sauces, and pasta. Another popular way to enjoy these truffles is to simply slice them very thinly and serve them on their own or with high-quality crackers.
Whichever way you choose to use your white truffle, remember to finely shave or grate it before adding it to your dish. The flavor is overpowering, and this will also help stretch your truffle budget a little further!
White truffles are definitely the most complicated type of truffle you can cook with. They’re temperamental, and they don’t work well in every dish. It takes a little truffle experience to understand how to use them well, but when you master them, they make for an exquisite ingredient you’ll never forget.
Natural Black Truffle
Truffle Difficulty: 4
How it’s Used: The black truffle is almost as valuable as the white truffle, but not quite. It’s usually found in the Perigord region in France, but it can also be found less commonly in Italy, England, and other parts of Europe. It doesn’t have as strong of a flavor as the white truffle does, but it nevertheless can be very powerful in just about any type of dish. It’s especially nice in Italian style cooking, particularly because it naturally has a very garlicky flavor.
There are many different varieties of black truffle, and the type you’re looking for when you do your shopping will either be referred to as the Perigord black truffle or the winter black truffle. If you find a fresh black truffle for sale at any time of the year other than fall or winter, then it isn’t the right type. It’s important to be sure you’re not buying summer black truffles because they’re not nearly as valuable or flavorful. The same is true of Chinese and Oregon black truffles, although the Oregon variety can give you a good place to get started if you’re looking for an affordable alternative while you get used to working with truffles.
Black truffles are often sliced thinly and placed on top of foods, and they may or may not be cooked beforehand. Where white truffles tend to shine best when they aren’t cooked or are just heated through, black truffles can take a lot of heat and still have plenty of flavor and moisture after the fact. Lay them in medallions on top of your favorite pasta or pork, or grate, dice, or shave them into any savory dish to bring a lot more complex flavor to each bite.
Black truffles are even sometimes successfully included in sweet dishes. They can provide a nice balance between something sweet and the incredible savory taste of a truffle. Although this is more difficult to achieve, it can be really impressive at your next dinner party.
Black truffles aren’t as difficult to cook with as white truffles, but when they’re fresh, they can still pose some challenges. Knowing how to properly cut your truffle is a good place to start learning. Black truffles can be used in more dishes than white truffles, but they still overpower flavors easily if you’re not careful.
Natural Frozen Truffle
Truffle Difficulty: 4
How it’s Used: Finally, the last type of truffle you’re likely to encounter in your cooking adventure is the frozen truffle. These are natural truffles that have been harvested at the peak of their flavor and season, and immediately flash-frozen to preserve as much of that flavor as possible. Although they aren’t going to be quite as delicious as fresh truffles while they’re still in season, they make a great alternative if you’re looking to save a little money or get access to truffles during the spring or summer.
If you purchase your frozen truffles from a quality and reputable seller, you won’t have to worry about losing much in the way of flavor. Be careful to choose a good seller who gets their truffles directly from Europe at the time of harvesting. Always be sure your truffles have been flash frozen instead of frozen in any other method.
When you cook with a frozen truffle, there’s no reason to thaw it out first. In fact, thawing the truffle can cause it to retain moisture from the melted ice, and thus become too spongy and wet to taste good anymore. It’s better to simply use frozen truffles the same way you would use a fresh one. These truffles have usually already been sliced to make them easier to work with, but if not, you can still grate or slice a frozen truffle with a sharp enough knife.
Cooking with frozen truffles is just like cooking with fresh ones, although you might need to use just a little bit more of the ingredient to make the flavor stand out. White and black truffles are both sold frozen, and can be substituted for fresh truffles in any type of recipe. If you can get your hands on frozen truffles, don’t be afraid to try them out right away and see how good they can taste in any dish! Note frozen white truffles, like their fresh counterparts, can only handle a little gentle heat before losing their flavor.
Frozen truffles aren’t as hard to work with as fresh white truffles can be, but they still pose a handful of challenges you’ll need to keep in mind when planning to cook with them. They’re a little more affordable and easier to find, and can be purchased in many different amounts to make your recipes even easier.
Now it’s time to learn about cooking with truffles and truffle ingredients the hands-on way! Listed below are five different recipes, each of which incorporates a different type of truffle. You’ll be able to try your hand at preparing each one, and see for yourself just how easy and delicious it can be to make truffles and their by-products a part of your cooking repertoire. Each of these recipes has been chosen with the beginning cook in mind, so even if you haven’t got a lot of experience working with unique ingredients (or cooking at all!) you shouldn’t have any trouble following these simple directions.
1. Truffle Sauce Coated Chicken
This easy to make chicken recipe incorporates a handmade truffle sauce that’s sure to surprise and delight even the pickiest of dinner guests.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
- 3 cremini mushrooms with stems removed, diced finely
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1-1/2 tsp truffle oil
- 4 pound halved chicken, deboned (or equal amount of chicken pieces)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a skillet until shimmering.
3. Add mushrooms, and sprinkle over salt and pepper.
4. Cook for 10 minutes and stir occasionally.
5. Remove from heat to let cool.
6. Rub chicken with rosemary and thyme, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
7. In a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining olive oil.
8. Brown chicken skin down for 10 minutes.
9. Place skillet in oven and roast until temperature reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This should be around 20 minutes.
10. Baste at least 3 times with pan juices.
11. Remove to a plate and let rest for 10 minutes.
12. Reserve 2 tbsp fat in skillet and add truffle oil, mushrooms, and heavy cream.
13. Heat over medium-high and scrape browned pieces from the bottom of the pan.
14. Simmer until reduced and slightly thickened, then stir in salt and pepper.
15. Serve chicken topped with homemade truffle sauce.
2. Portobello Parmesan Mushrooms
This delicious plate works well as its own entrée or can be served as a side dish to pair with just about any Italian style dinner.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 4 cleaned Portobello mushrooms with stems removed
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 4 tsp white truffle oil
- Olive oil to taste
- 1 cup oyster mushrooms
1. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-low.
2. In a small bowl, combine Parmesan with salt, pepper, and thyme.
3. Brush both sides of each mushroom with olive oil.
4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. Grill with the cap side down for 5 minutes, then flip and grill for 5 minutes more.
6. Top mushrooms with cheese mixture and leave on the grill.
7. Cover and cook for 2 minutes or until cheese melts.
8. Drizzle with white truffle oil and serve on a platter.
9. In a skillet over medium heat, cook oyster mushrooms in a drizzle of olive oil until brown.
10. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
11. Top Portobellos with oyster mushrooms and serve.
3. Truffle Butter Tagliatelle
Try this delicious dish for a simple yet effective way to use truffle butter just right.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 package Cipriani tagliatelle pasta
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 3 ounces white truffle butter
- 3 ounces shaved Parmesan cheese
- 3 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
1. Season a pot of water with 1 tbsp salt and bring to a rolling boil.
2. In a separate, large pan, bring cream to a simmer over medium.
3. Add 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, and truffle butter.
4. Reduce heat to low and stir well until butter melts.
5. Place pasta in boiling water and cook for 3 minutes.
6. Drain and reserve ½ cup of pasta water.
7. Place pasta in the pan with sauce and toss to coat well.
8. Add pasta water to make the sauce creamy.
9. Serve topped with chives and Parmesan cheese.
4. Simple White Truffle Pasta
When it comes to cooking with white truffles, less is more, and this recipe proves it with an incredible flavor you’ll never forget.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
- 1-1/2 cups fresh Parmesan, grated
- 1-1/2 pounds fresh capellini pasta
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup butter, unsalted
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 ounce white truffle, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not thaw)
1. Cook pasta in salted, boiling water for 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain.
2. Melt butter in a large saucepan.
3. Add cream and Parmesan and cook until cheese has melted.
4. Add pasta and toss to coat.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Serve with grated truffle on top. Do not mix truffle in to provide the best flavor.
5. Black Truffle Duck Breast
This traditional dish is an amazing way to enjoy the taste of black truffles while accentuating perfectly cooked, tender duck breasts.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
- 1-1/2 pounds chicken wings
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 cups no sodium chicken broth
- 2-1/4 cup no sodium beef broth
- 3 pounds of boneless fresh duck breast halves
- 2 ounces black truffles, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not thaw)
- 1 cup Pinot Noir
- ¼ cup shallots, chopped
- 2 tbsp divided butter
1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering.
2. Place chicken wings in oil and cook until dark brown, for 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Add celery and carrots and cook for 5 minutes more.
4. Add both broths and heat until boiling.
5. Reduce heat to low.
6. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
7. Strain and reserve broth. Do not keep vegetables and wings.
8. Boil broth in skillet until reduced to 1 cup.
9. Peel truffles carefully and set aside peel for the sauce.
10. Shave truffles, then cover and set aside.
11. Pat duck breasts with paper towels and trim.
12. Pull the skin away and top with truffles evenly over each breast. Cover with removed skin.
13. Score skin in a diamond pattern.
14. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and warm an oven-proof skillet (such as cast-iron) over medium heat on the stovetop.
15. Season duck with salt and pepper and place, skin down, in skillet.
16. Cook for 10 minutes, then turn and place in the stove.
17. Cook for 8 minutes more.
18. Place on a platter and cover. Let stand 10 minutes.
19. Chop truffle peel for sauce and drain fat from duck skillet.
20. Melt 1 tbsp butter in the skillet over medium-high and cook shallots for 2 minutes.
21. Add wine and boil for 4 minutes.
22. Add reserved broth and simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced to 1 cup.
23. Strain sauce into saucepan and add truffles.
24. Add 1 tbsp butter and melt.
25. Serve duck breasts drizzled with sauce.
Cooking with truffles doesn’t have to be complicated or scary! As you can see, there are a lot of different truffle variations out there, and each one offers unique flavors and challenges for your food. No matter which type you decide to cook with, there are a few simple tips and tricks you should always keep in mind to help make your truffle experience go that much more smoothly.
- Don’t use huge chunks of truffles in your cooking. Slicing them not only cuts back on the overwhelming flavor of most truffles but also saves you money when you aren’t wasting a big piece of an expensive ingredient in every meal.
- Black truffles and white truffles have two very distinct flavors. White truffles are much more aromatic and have a lighter taste overall, while black truffles are much earthier and have a stout, deep flavor by comparison. Some dishes don’t incorporate certain types of truffles as well as others.
- Truffle oil is better quality when it costs more. Unfortunately, low priced truffle oil doesn’t often contain any actual truffles, and may not add much to your dish.
- Truffle butter should be used sparingly. The balance of flavors between the butter and truffles can be overpowering if you cover a piece of meat solely in this type of butter.
- Truffles should not be washed until you’re ready to cook with them. This helps keep the flavor in even longer.
Remember these tips and you’ll be making truffle recipes like those listed above in no time. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative, too, and see if you can discover the next big foodie craze when you cook with truffles!