Truffles may be one of the most prized possessions of the European kitchen but Australians are starting to enjoy what is referred to as the ‘diamond of the kitchen’ as the local truffle industry takes off.
Truffles maybe a relatively new phenomenon for us, but they first made their way into the history books many centuries ago. Famous poets, philosophers and scholars claimed that the truffle was the result of a bolt of lightning striking near an oak tree, as this was a sacred tree of the gods. This fascination may have come from the fact that a truffle has no root system, it doesn’t sprout at the top of the soil; its sole existence is hidden from the world above it. We now know it is a fungus, that finds nourishment and perfect growing conditions in the root systems of, most commonly, oak and hazelnut trees. Perfectly ripe truffles need the combination of a warm summer and the cold snap of winter; making Tasmania and Canberra prime truffière locations. For me, the real magic of the truffle is in how you use it or, more importantly, how many times you can use it. Storing your truffle in carnaroli rice is not only the perfect way to keep it but it also provides you with the perfect foundation for a rich truffle risotto. Due to the porous nature of eggs, they too, when stored with truffles, will absorb the aromas and be packed full of truffle goodness. Once you have infused your rice or eggs, it’s time to move onto the main event, the truffle itself. Delicate heat is best, shaved over pasta, pizza or even through mashed potato. For the ultimate indulgence, a truffle and cheese toasted sandwich is pretty much as good as it gets, if you ask me.
Truffle and Washed Rind Pizza
Ingredients Dough: 3 cups plain flour 1.5 teaspoons sea salt 2 teaspoons yeast 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1 cup of warm water Topping: 200g Swiss brown mushrooms (sliced thinly) 25g butter Extra virgin olive oil 150g washed rind cheese like Taleggio or King River Gold for an Australian alternative Thyme 30g black truffle Method:
- For the dough, combine all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook.
- Mix on a medium speed for 15 minutes. You may need to tweak the amount of water added, the dough should clean the bowl as it is mixing; adjust as needed.
- Move the dough to an oiled bowl and leave covered for an hour in a warm place.
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a frying pan until bubbling, add the sliced mushrooms and fry until golden brown. Set aside to cool until required.
- Generously grease a baking tray with olive oil and push the dough out to cover the tray. It may need some convincing, give the dough time to relax in between stretching.
- Generously place thick slices of your preferred washed rind cheese over the base of the pizza, followed by the mushroom slices.
- Bake at 190 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until the base comes away from the tray and is golden brown.
- Leave to cool and sprinkle with the fresh thyme sprigs and thinly sliced black truffle.