of necessities and truffles

Western Australian truffles

‘Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves.’
            Dorothy Parker
            US author, humorist, poet, & wit (1893 – 1967)

The other day I bought some leather care for my new and very luxurious Chloe handbag and it happened to have this quote from Ms Parker on the packaging. And well it got me thinking about all things luxe and really, she does have a very good point.

There seem to be two types of people in the world, those that only treat themselves with luxuries only after everything else is under control and those that live by Parker’s wise words and think first of the fun bits and just let everything else fall into place. While I would have to classify myself as falling more into the latter camp, my amusing friend Rhys is the poster boy for the luxurious way of life.

A few short weeks ago I was one of the lucky beneficiaries of Rhys’ luxury loving ways. With a vague mention of truffles, I rocked up for a leisurely Sunday afternoon very very late lunch expecting good things. We started with jamon, cheese from the Pyreneese and lovely little olives from Liguria. A very fine spread. But of course Rhys felt that this random Sunday needed a little luxury and we were treated to tiny delicate tartlets filled with crème fraiche and caviar (dished out with a mother of peal spoon). The only thing missing was Champagne which I was kicking myself for not anticipating.

Then there were truffles. Black gold all the way from Western Australia, nestled in among Canaroli rice so that none of their precious aroma was wasted. With some stirring and kitchen banter the truffle was soon on our plates transformed into the richest of risottos. My second ever experience of Australian grown truffles and one that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

Like a true fungi junkie, I was placing an order with Rhys’ people to get myself a truffle of my own before I had even finished the divine risotto on my plate. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to take care of all the luxuries and the following weekend my mum and I had a truffle risotto extravaganza of our own complete with a bottle of Veuve to celebrate the end of chemo and the regrowth of hair lost…..all good things

a cosy truffle dinner
veuve cliquot NV
truffle risotto
green salad
date & apple bread pudding with vanilla icecream

truffle risotto
Serves 4 – 6

Risotto is the type of food that’s so much better homemade with love rather than restaurant prepared. It has taken me a long time to get comfortable with it and I’m still on the journey to risotto nirvana so am always on the lookout for risotto tips.

Over the years I’ve learned the importance of balancing the heat of your stock and the rice so that it is warm enough for the rice to want to lap up the stock but not so hot that the stock sizzles and evaporates away.  I’ve also read that risotto likes it when you are patient and space out your stock additions, making it almost beg for more moisture. But the most dramatic improvement in my risotto has come from switching from just any old Arborio rice to the more difficult to source Canaroli – definitely worth the extra cash.

My other lesson on risotto is that it always turns out better if you have everything ready to go before you start and then a good bottle of white, or better still Champagne open and someone amusing to chat with while you ladle and stir. As my friend Rhys has said, ‘risotto is at least a 20 minute commitment of your life to stirring so you owe it to yourself to have a decent drink on hand’.

6C (1.5L) homemade chicken stock
1 brown onion, finely diced
2 sticks celery, finely diced
1/4C olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
3 sprigs thyme
300g (1 1/2C) canaroli rice
1C (250mL) dry white wine
75g parmesan cheese, grated
50g unsalted butter, chopped
50g fresh black truffle, or more if you’re feeling cashed up
Extra parmesan to serve
Green salad, to serve

Bring stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Heat oil over a medium heat in another medium saucepan and add onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is softened but not browned. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in thyme and rice and toss rice through the oil for a few minutes to toast it a little. Add wine and cook stirring until all the wine has been absorbed.  Add stock a ladle full at a time stirring constantly between each addition, allowing a small breaks for Champagne sipping.

When most of the stock has been absorbed, taste the rice and continue to stir and add stock (or boiling water from the kettle if you run out) until the rice is cooked and just lost its chalkiness. Stir through cheese and butter and finely grate in about half of your truffle (a microplane works well). Season cover and allow to stand off the heat for a couple of minutes while you prepare your salad.

Divide risotto between warmed shallow bowls and grate over remaining truffle. Serve immediately with extra parmesan for grating and green salad passed separately.

My Truffle Dealer
Rhys Evans
Deli Cucina
Shop 18, 235 New South Head Road
Edgecliff  NSW  2027
(02) 9328 0399
decucina@tpg.com.au

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