Black magic: Skye Gyngell reveals the best way to serve truffle

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Skye Gyngell went on a truffle-hunt in south-west France. There, she unearthed a hoard of underground treasure. The only question was: how best to serve it?

Earlier this month I spent a glorious week in south-west France, teaching at a lovely cookery school called La Combe, in Périgord Noir. It is a richly green part of the world – tall poplars line the verges of the roads along with wild elder, borage, robinia, brilliant gorse bushes and dense forests of oaks, chestnut and beech – and it is an area steeped in a rich food culture. This is the land of foie gras, confit walnuts, black truffles, strawberries and corn. Its forests are full of wild boar, and fabulous cheeses such as Fourme d'Ambert and cabecous are abundant in every local market.

One of the many highlights was being taken by the owners of La Combe, Wendeley and Robert Harvey, on my first truffle hunt. I was curious and excited as we set off among the oak and hazelnut trees with their little dog in tow, who was sniffing out our treasure.

Many wax lyrical about the heady, intensely perfumed flavour and smell of this very potent fungus, around which there exists a certain air of mystery. The expense of the black truffle – cheaper than the Italian white ones, but still costing up to £1,800 a kilo – makes its allure that much greater, and it seems a rare treat to ever eat one (although its appearance in high-end French cooking once seemed mandatory). Miraculously – as truffle hunts usually take place in the winter, when they grow more plentifully – we came home with three small examples.

The truffles smelled and tasted of the forest – damp leaves, moss and mushrooms all rolled into one. They add richness and a sense of ripeness to dishes, and work well in simple recipes, served with butter and cream as well as eggs and poultry. Try inserting the thinnest slices under the skin of some chicken before roasting it. Quite delicious. Or copy the Italians, and simply shave it liberally over home-made egg pasta. Truffle oils are a good substitute – available in most good delicatessens. Inspired by my hunt, and created largely with what was to hand in the larder, here's what I came up with.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627

Salad of mache, walnuts and black truffles

This is the simplest possible salad, using walnuts found in the market and sweet delicate mache – otherwise known as lamb's lettuce – from the garden. It would make an elegant first course.

Serves 4

20 fresh walnuts
100g/31/2oz mache (lamb's lettuce)

For the vinaigrette

1tsp Dijon mustard
2tbsp red-wine vinegar
100ml/31/2fl oz walnut oil (or, if you're using truffle oil rather than truffles, use it here instead of walnut oil)

To serve

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few shavings of black truffle

Using a nut cracker, remove the walnuts from their shells. Wash the lettuce well and pat dry. To make the vinaigrette, place the mustard in a bowl and add a pinch of salt and pepper, then add the vinegar and stir well to combine. Slowly whisk in the oil so it forms a thick emulsified sauce.

Place the lettuce in a bowl and add the walnuts, season with a little salt and pepper and spoon over the dressing. Arrange the salad attractively on a flat plate and shave over a little truffle.

Cabecous de Rocamadour with honey and truffle

Cabecous is a goat's cheese with a slightly damp rind and a creamy interior. It is truly delicious and goes particularly well with walnuts and prunes.

Serves 4

4 cabecous
2tbsp honey (or, if you can't get hold of truffles, try truffle honey – see Forager below)
1 small black truffle

Arrange the cheese attractively on a plate, drizzle over the honey and shave over the truffle. Serve at once.

Scrambled eggs and shaved black truffles

Velvety smooth and indulgent, this is luxurious comfort food. I like to make scrambled eggs the way the French do, very slowly over the lowest heat with little flecks of cold, unsalted butter grated through to give it a smooth texture.

Serves 4

80g/3oz unsalted butter
12 organic free-range eggs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove of garlic
1 small black truffle

Cut the butter into small slivers. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat in half the butter pieces. Add a pinch of salt and a little black pepper.

Melt a little more of the butter into a small heavy based saucepan – just enough to coat the pan. Pour in the eggs and turn the heat to its lowest. Gently rub a wooden spoon with the garlic and start stirring the eggs constantly. At the same time, add the rest of the butter in small increments. To cook the eggs to a silken texture will take about eight minutes. Divide the eggs among four plates and shave a little truffle over each. Serve at once.

The Forager by Wendy Fogarty

Petersham's food sourcer on where to find black summer truffles

Black summer truffles are more subtle in flavour than the more highly sought winter truffles, but they last longer due to their thicker skin. Always check the label for their Latin name (Tuber aestivum vitt) as a mark of authenticity.

Oil & More, based in Wales, sells summer truffles from Tuscan firm Boscovivo. Tel: 01691 772 407, www.oilandmore.co.uk

London Fine Foods sells fresh seasonal truffles as well as truffle honey. Tel: 0845 643 9121, www.efoodies.com

Tartufanghe, based in the Piedmont region of Italy, sells whole preserved Italian summer truffles, also known as "scorzone", www.tartuflanghe.com

Princesse d'Isenbourg et Cie Join with friends and place a good-sized order from this supplier of fresh black Périgord truffles to the trade. Tel: 020 8960 3600, www.caviar.co.uk

Mycorrhizal Systems sells trees inoculated with summer truffle and particularly well suited to our climate. www.plantationsystems.com

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
An iceberg in Ilulissat, Greenland; researchers have been studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and their long-term ramifications for the rest of the world (Getty)
news
Environment
environment
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Jackman bears his claws and loses the plot in X-Men movie 'The Wolverine'
film
Arts and Entertainment
'Knowledge is power': Angelina Jolie has written about her preventive surgery
film
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing