As I am writing this post I still can feel the heady smell lingering here. Go figure, until a few years ago truffle for me was just a creamy and rather anonymous spread on toasted bread bought for special dinners. An aberration, I know, but as we usually say in Italy: no one was born already learned.
Then I received as a gift a little one, a true one. A real truffle looks like an old ingredient of the gnomes, precious, with a dusting of brown soil to cover it, a product of the forest and the trees, with an unique scent, intense and persistent. A priceless product, strictly related to its territory.
The Associazione per il Centro Nazionale Studi Tartufo in cooparation with Ente Fiera Internazionale del Tartufo and Comune di Alba invited a number of foodbloggers to take part to the “PASTA, TARTUFO E 2.0” competition: the organizers sent us a White Truffle of Alba and a selection of Agnesi pasta. The goal was to cook and post a creative recipe with these two ingredients. This is the basis, then our imagination could work free.
I was walking with Emiko and Marco in Florence on the river bank after a quite challenging dinner, yet not satisfied we were still talking about new interesting recipes to try and special menus to realize before their departure.
When I remembered … A white truffle, they’re sending me a White Truffle from Alba! What can we do with it? Names and ingredients were buzzing, thrown in a mix of euphoria and uncontrollable hungry: duck, yes, duck gets along really well with the truffles. And the cheese? do not forget it! yes but the egg? the egg with truffles is a classic. Let’s use them all! What are we doing, so?
Besides these, the essential ingredient: conviviality. Because the scent of truffles is too heady to be kept locked in a kitchen with a select few.
The truffles call back to mind lavish dinners, celebrations of special occasions, wealth, brocades, banquets, opulence and satisfied laughter.
Even though all this richness is missing, the celebration of a generous friendship is enough, the magic is made. We used the Alba white truffle during the farewell lunch with many friends of Marco and Emiko last Sunday, a special occasion to say them goodbye before they left for Australia.
In a villa in the countryside, during a beautiful bright autumn day, when the vine leaves were turning deep yellow and the first trees fiery red, we felt like the characters of a painting or a novel, a perfect moment in time.
In the old kitchen the roasted smells from the oven and the ancient aroma of a spelt soup simmering slowly on the stove mingled with the unmistakable smell of the white truffle, wrapped in a white towel and stored in a jar, ready to entice everyone with its smell that tickles the memories and the mental well-being.
Back to the starting point: we were talking about egg, duck, cheese, white truffle of Alba and thick Agnesi spaghetti, spaghetti alla chitarra… what to do with these ingredients? an unusual carbonara, luxurious and festive.
- 300 g of duck breast with skin on
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 egg yolks
- thick spaghetti
- grated pecorino romano
- white truffle of Alba
Put the duck breast on a dish, cut the skin with a criss-cross pattern and season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Rub the seasoning well all over the meat.
Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat and when it is hot put the duck breast in the center, skin side down. Sit a lid or a plate, which should be slightly smaller than the frying pan, on the meat and weigh it down with something heavy. I used a package of 1 kg of sugar! Cook the meat for about 8 minutes, until the skin is crisp and golden brown. Then remove the lid and turn the breast, cooking it for 4 up to 5 minutes more on the other side. Take the duck out of the pan and put it aside. Save a tablespoon or two of duck fat.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, drain it and save a ladle of the cooking water.
Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl and cut the duck breast into cubes.
In a large skillet over medium heat toss the spaghetti, the egg yolks and the duck breast, if required add a few tablespoons of the cooking water to stir.
When the yolks have covered in a silky and smooth yellow cream the spaghetti, remove from heat and season with a generous sprinkling of grated pecorino cheese, plenty of ground black pepper and thin slices of white truffle.
Serve immediately and enjoy your meal.
Have a good trip, good luck and have fun!