Sunday, July 7, 2013

3. Truffled chicken


I am very much looking forward to repeating this recipe in the next few weeks.

I believe that truffle performs best in simple dishes where the flavour can shine through.  There is no point spending money on something that just ends up drowning in other flavours!  On plain pasta, in poached eggs, or in a simple meal of roast chicken the truffle gets the attention it deserves!

The key to this is very thin slices of truffle - which will be hard to achieve without a truffle slicer.  Specialist stores (like Madame Truffles in South Melbourne) sell these, or you can order online.  Once you have been sucked into the truffle trap, and know you will be buying these babies every year, it is worth getting your hands on a slicer (if you are still dabbling, I managed just fine with a microplane for a year and a half!)


To truffle your chicken, begin at least 5 hours prior to cooking (even better if you can do this the night before).  This will give sufficient time for the truffle flavour to work its way in and make itself at home.

First, prepare your chicken for roasting - I pat dry with paper towels, and remove excess skin/fat with a sharp knife.  You can use a whole chicken, or for a smaller crowd use whole breasts with the skin on (if you don't have chicken skin, move on now and find another recipe.  This needs chicken skin as the fat holds the truffle flavour)..  If using a whole chicken, be aware that the entire bird will have the aroma of truffle - consider this if you plan to reuse leftovers (cold chicken sandwiches will be amazing, but your favourite pasta recipe might need some thought).

Carefully separate the skin from the breast of the chicken, keeping the skin whole if possible (avoid sharp objects and fingernails, which will break through the skin) - I use latex gloves to take the edge off my fingernails, with the added bonus of stopping chicken from working its way under my nails.

Place sliced truffle between the skin and the breast, creating a layer of delicious truffle covering as much surface area as possible. If using a whole bird, repeat with the skin around the thighs.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and pop in the fridge until ready to cook (at least 5 hours, preferably overnight.  Yes I did mention this earlier but it is important!)

Rub a little softened butter into the skin, and roast your chicken as you normally would.

Give a little thought to your side dishes - remember you don't want to upstage the main event.  I made roast potatoes (Blue Zarr from Georgie's Harvest) with a little garlic and butter, and stir-fried kale (cavolo nero) with broccolini.  Simple, with hints of the earth, these complemented the truffle beautifully.

Also, please consider using any drippings and pan scrapings to make gravy.  This was an absolute highlight - the butter and chicken fat carried the truffle flavour, and I could have finished this directly from the jug!


Finish with shaved truffle if you have any left.


2. Risotto

Truffles make everything better.

I love risotto made with a medley of mushrooms.  One of the first things I fell in love with when we moved to Melbourne was the variety of mushrooms available in stores - and not just at the markets, but in the supermarket!  Fresh shiitake, shimeji, enoki, oyster, king oyster, there are so many available!  Growing up, the selection was limited to button or swiss brown - or portobello for the BBQ if you were feeling "fancy".


Most often, I brown shimeji, shiitake, and honey browns in butter, and stir through the risotto as it's cooking.  I use good quality beef stock (or consomme) and good quality parmesan.
Finish with a generous shaving off truffle immediately before serving.

1. Truffled eggs

This is probably my favourite way to use truffles because it costs nothing!  Free truffles!
Okay, you still have to buy a truffle, but this is a bonus use that doesn't require you to cut or grate or shave the truffle, unless you are really greedy (like me)...


Take your fresh truffle, and put it in a big enough jar to hold the truffle plus a few (whole) eggs.  
This one is an Otway truffle, from Apollo Bay, VIC. These beauties are grown by chef Steve Earl (who cooked for us at the Georgie's Harvest dinner during this year's Melbourne Food & Wine festival - Jason posted a photo summary of this awesome night here).. and we will be back to buy more from Georgie this season!


I left the wood straw in the jar, as it smelled like truffles!


Simply pop the lid on, and store in the fridge overnight - or until you are ready to use the truffle (at least 3 hours).
Remove the eggs and use them as you please.  They will have been infused with truffle through the shells, and taste amazing.  I love them poached on toast with butter and a sprinlle of salt.  And I usually can't resist shaving a little extra truffle on top.

It's July again! TRUFFLES!

My favourite month, and not just because my birthday is in here.  Truffle season has officially opened, and I've recently discovered a lot of photos in my archive which I failed to post last year because I was too busy eating!


So, without further delay, I bring you a few long-overdue posts about my favourite funghi... in time for you to source your own and cook!