Sunday, March 25, 2007

Truffle Oil

When I appeared before the Garden Club of Annapolis last week the misstress of ceremonies by way of introduction ticked off some of the bullet points in my bio: Former newspaper reporter, caterer, personal chef, gardener, teacher.
“And what does that mean, exactly, ‘The Slow Cook,’?” she asked when she got to the moniker I use for this blog. “Is that something you do on a grill?”

"No,” I replied. “That’s more like the weekend we spent recently on our friend’s farm, killing a bunch of pigs and making sausage out of them.”

There were audible gasps.

Well, not everything I do involved killing a pig or cooking all day. Sometimes it just involves rich, wonderful flavors and impeccable ingredients. Into that category would fall truffle oil. I don't use truffle oil often, but I do keep a small bottle in my fridge for special occasions. Truffle oil is probably the closest I will ever get to using real truffles in my cooking. Just a few drops impart a truckload of flavor and can bind unlikely combinations of ingredients into something sublime. Example: this raw salad of shaved fennel and portobello mushrooms.
For Four Persons

1 medium fennel bulb

2 portobello mushrooms, cleaned (use a teaspoon or grapefruit spoon to remove the gills)

extra virgin olive oil

generous squeeze of lemon juice

truffle oil

salt to taste

Slice the fennel bulb and mushroom very thinly. (I cut the portobello caps in half first). It helps to use a mandoline or other vegetable slicer. Toss together in a bowl. Mix in some olive oil until the salad is just moist and glistening. Season with lemon juice. Add a drizzle of truffle oil, or just enough that the salad is frangrant with the oil. Season with salt and serve.


MA said...

oh gawd, Ed. You are soooooo bad. Telling all the ladies who lunch you've been off killing pigs? I am still sitting here at the computer snorting and chuckling. I think you are a little teensy tiny bit wicked.
And I am tickled. Wish I had been there.

Gotta tell you.....I love those raised beds with all the art on them. Love 'em. Wonderful project.

Keep it up!


Ed Bruske said...

There are probably several areas where I and the ladies in Annapolis would part ways. But they were very gracious and supportive. I would gladly share chicken salad sandwiches with them again.

Anonymous said...

Chalk it up as another example of the utter phoniness of our fake foodie culture.

Tip on sausage making: There's an old Italian regional sausage with a bit of pork liver (no more than a quarter or eighth of the meat) and orange zest. No fennel. Amazing, and impossible to buy today, even in old Italian delis.

Ed Bruske said...

Thanks so much for visiting, Mr. Anonymous. As for truffle oil, I guess it's the next best thing to being there. I'd love to have a recipe for that sausage. I'm going to be making sausage soon and I'd love to try it. And I do have a source for pork liver. One of the sausages I did not discuss in the "Matanza" posts was the blood sausage that we made in a small quantity. There just aren't enough days in the year for all this great stuff. Keep it coming...