Champagne and black truffles
Truffles… "Great ladies" in brown or white, with complex personalities.
Those enigmatic little nuggets that we call truffles in fact grow in four different varieties, each one with a very distinct flavour. There is the black winter truffle (Tuber rnelanosporum), the summer truffle (Tuber aestivum) and two types of autumn truffles, the Burgundy truffle (Tuber uncinatum) and the white truffle (Tuber magnatum).
Out of season, truffles are available whole, sliced or as parings in tins (the words ‘première ébullition’ (blanching) on the packaging are a guarantee of aroma). Fresh truffles freeze well in vacuum-packed; dried truffles may be stored in a sterilised, air-tight jar.
Champagne wines and truffles - An alliance of two jewels of French gastronomy
Truffles… Champagne… The mere mention of these two "stars" of the table conjures up images of celebration and the pleasures of the flesh, moments of unforgettable luxurious indulgence. But what in reality are the qualities that link this captivating little nugget torn from the soil and a wine that is the symbol of lightness itself?
Black truffles (Tuber melanosporum): choose rich powerful, vinous Champagne wines with definite structure, perhaps even an astringent or tannic quality and an energetic personality, such as Blancs de noirs (based on Pinot noir and/or meunier) Champagne or mature Champagne preferably vintage or even, aged in the intimacy of the wood. Foods with crisp and warm ‘oiIy', strong textures (butter, cream, milk, flour) go beautifully with these wines of Champagne.
Summer and Burgundy truffles (Tuber aestivum and Tuber uncinatum) these go well with refined, tender, suave Champagnes with a smooth and rounded texture. Choose young blancs de noirs based on Pinot noir or meunier, ones that have been set aside for shorter periods than those you would combine with black truffles.
Maturation on lees brings out the mellow, oily texture of the wine. Champagne aged in the wood strikes the right chords as its wooded notes develop into smooth, creamy substance on the palate. These wines go beautifully with recipes based on pasta, sauces, cream and butter. The harmony reaches its apogee with those sweet tasting, creamy desserts, fragrant with vanilla, that go so well with truffles.
White truffles (Tuber magnatum) prefer vintage blanc de blancs Champagne or the one predominantly based on Chardonnay that achieves a subtle balance of substance and freshness. Long periods of ageing on lees endow them with an extra sensory dimension, complexity and an even more unique taste.
Foods that have at certain smoothness and depth of aroma also combine to fabulous effect with the freshness and delicate vinosity of vintage rose Champagne that is predominantly based on Chardonnay grapes.
Two recipes suggested by Chefs to prolong this Epicurean encounter
- Little potato turnovers with black truffles by Guy Savoy
Serves 6 - Ingredients : 120 g whole truffles, 1.2 kg potatoes, 120 g leeks, 1 small onion, 250 g butter, salt, freshly ground pepper.
- Peel the potatoes, leeks and onions and rinse carefully.
- Using a vegetable slicer, cut the potatoes into 3mm thick slices. Rinse once again to remove the starch and leave in water.
- Clarify 150g butter in a high-sided frying pan over a low heat.
- Cut onions and leeks into very thin strips and sweat with 30g butter over a low heat until thoroughly cooked.
- Strain the potatoes and pat dry. Turn into a mixing bowl, add 3/4 of the clarified butter and mix well.
- Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Arrange the slices of potato around a buttered baking tray so that they overlap.
- Oven bake for about 15 minutes at 175°C (325°F).
- Cut the truffle into thin slices. When the potato slices are cooked, turn them out onto a board allowing six per person.
- Place a little of the onion-leek mixture in the centre of each one, top with a slice of truffle and finally cover with a second slice of potato.
- Use a pastry-cutter to shape the turnovers, arrange them around a buttered dish, brush with clarified butter and brown in a salamander or very hot oven.
- When golden, arrange on individual plates and serve.
- Little pasta shells with sugar and Burgundy truffles by Christophe Dufossé
Serves 5 - lngredients : 60 g butter, 80 g caster sugar, 200 g coquillettes (little pasta shells), 30 cl single cream, 1 Burgundy truffle per person (approx. 30 to 40g).
- Cook the coquillettes in boiling water until they reach the 'al dente‘ stage. Strain and set aside.
- Reduce the cream by half.
- Reduce the cream by half.
- Reduce the cream by half. When you are ready to serve, pan fry the coquillettes in the butter and sugar, add the reduced cream and shredded truffles.