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
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week