I have cooked my first truffle! Or rather, I have prepared my first truffle – I didn’t actually cook it. I shaved thin slices off it for my meal and put the rest of it in a container full of arborio rice to infuse. In a day or two, I’ll put it into some eggs. I still have evil plans for chocolate mousse, because having tasted truffle in mousse, I now find its flavour a bit chocolatey (though mostly I would describe the flavour as pongy). I don’t know what I’ll infuse after that.
Anyway, I served the shaved truffle with steak, something I haven’t cooked in over ten years, because Andrew doesn’t like it (mind you, he can’t actually explain what he doesn’t like about it, because that would be far too helpful.and might allow me to find ways of cooking it that he did like. To do him justice, however, he did eat it without complaint this evening. Possibly because I would have burst into tears if he hadn’t, but still. He says he’d eat it again, though there are a lot of things he’d prefer to eat. My Andrew does not have expensive tastes…) (I’ve just told him that he is getting extensive character back-story in this post. He says he’s delighted, but I think he isn’t being entirely truthful on that score. My Andrew is also rather polite.). But my lovely beef and lamb farm had scotch fillets on special and I somehow couldn’t resist, and they’ve been sitting in my fridge (vacuum packed) ever since, waiting for me to muster the courage to actually use them.
The little gloat is because I actually managed to cook the steaks perfectly, despite really not knowing what I was doing. They were tender and pink on the inside, but very definitely cooked. I think I actually achieved medium-rare, in fact. (This next bit is mostly for my own sake, so I have a record for next time – feel free to skip it) I rubbed them on both sides with rosemary, salt, pepper, and a little balsamic vinegar and let them sit for about an hour at room temperature (food safety says I am allowed to do this), then heated the pan until it was very hot, added the oil and the steaks and gave them a minute or two on each side before turning the heat down very low and continuing to cook them. I did splash some red wine into the pan halfway through. I did the finger test to work out doneness, though, frankly, it was largely fluke that I got it right. And then I rested it for somewhere between three and five minutes.
In terms of flavour – wow. Actual truffle turns out to be several degrees of magnitude stronger than truffle infused oil or salt. Which I suppose I should have been able to guess, except that I hadn’t previously been able to imagine something that was several degrees of magnitude stronger than truffle-infused salt. It just barely manages not to be too much. I can see why the chap selling the truffles (yes, I spoke to all three stall-holders) told me that he would use truffles with steak or with eggs or potatoes. Steak is butch enough to stand up to the incredible ponginess of truffle; potatoes or eggs are bland enough not to fight with it. I don’t think chicken would stand a chance, frankly, though I suspect venison or kangaroo would be lovely with it.
By purest luck I decided to serve the steak and truffles with mashed sweet potato and balsamic roasted tomatoes and capsicums. The balsamic veggies went quite nicely with it, but the mashed sweet potato was absolutely bang-on in terms of flavour – it’s sweetness alleviated the my-God-this-is-too-much-ness of the truffles, and complemented the steaks, too. If I ever find myself with truffles again, I’ll keep this flavour combination in mind. The cardoons, sadly, were not at their best, and I think next time I would serve this with spinach or kale or another assertive leafy green.
Altogether, a very successful first foray into truffle cookery. Though mostly, I am just smiling the happy smile of a Catherine who has had really, really good steak for dinner. I don’t think I’ve had a steak this good in years, and I do love good steak. Though I’m feeling so happy and vigorous and iron-filled that I sort of want to go out right now and give blood (are there 24-hour blood donation stations in Melbourne? Probably not.), because I am sure that my blood is absolutely awesome at this moment.
And it probably smells like truffles.
(Catherine’s blood type today: O, rhesus positive, truffle positive)
(And now I’m wishing that I hadn’t just finished reading Sunshine, because I suspect that is just the sort of remark which would attract the attention of a vampire with gourmet inclinations. I don’t actually believe in vampires, mostly, but Robin McKinley’s writing does make me think twice on the subject…)