Wednesday, 16 November 2016
Spaghetti with black truffle, egg and parmesan
Following on from the last recipe on this blog, I still had a good amount of black truffle in my possession and I was determined to turn it into another tasty dish. Although I have previously preserved excess truffle in butter to stretch it out for a week or so, this time I wanted to strike while the iron was hot, and no sooner had I finished scoffing my raw beef snacks I was back in the kitchen with the stove on. For this dish I wanted to keep things simple and very plain, maximising the pungent flavour of the knobbly tuber.
Truffles and eggs have long been bedfellows, and it’s amazing that if you keep eggs and truffles close together, the flavour will seep through the shells. After an overnight stay in each other’s company, the eggs had a definite truffley whiff and were ready to be beaten into a pasta dough, along with forming the base of the simple sauce. Carbonara and other rich, creamy pasta sauces have been making a fashionable comeback of late, and it doesn’t seem like you can switch on social media without spying another take on cacio e pepe. The role of eggs in this recipe is further stripped back, acting as a rich binder to transform the parmesan and truffle into a thick and glossy sauce.
Like most simple Italian recipes, success lies in careful execution. I cringe when I remember my earlier attempts at carbonara, heating the sauce together in a red hot pan that instantly turned the smooth eggs into a grainy, somewhat scrambled affair. I also knew nothing of using the very handy glutenous pasta water, which tempers the eggs and helps a great deal to thicken everything up. Constant movement of the pasta is the key; it will stop the eggs from overcooking whilst emulsifying the sauce. It may take a practice or two, but it’s a technique well worth mastering that will enable a bowlful of comforting pasta to be made in minutes.
For the fresh spaghetti:
200g ‘00’ grade strong pasta flour, plus a little extra for rolling
2 medium eggs
Extra virgin olive oil
For the sauce:
2 medium eggs plus one yolk
A small handful of parmesan, finely grated
1/3 of a black truffle, finely grated
Thin slices of black truffle
Extra gratings of parmesan
First make the pasta. Pour the flour into a large bowl and combine with a very generous pinch of salt. Use a wooden spoon to make a well in the middle, and crack in the eggs, along with about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Use a fork to beat the eggs and oil, slowly incorporating the surrounding flour until a dough starts to form. Transfer the dough to a flat surface and knead really well, for 5-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic in texture. Wrap with cling film and put in the fridge to rest for an hour.
Remove the rested dough from the fridge, and use a pasta machine to roll thinly (to the second thinnest setting using an Imperia machine), dusting each side with a little flour every few rolls. Use a spaghetti cutter attachment to create spaghetti. Cover the fresh pasta with a tea towel while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Fill a large saucepan with water and add a generous amount of salt. Bring to the boil. Set a large frying pan over a gentle heat.
Break the eggs for the sauce into a bowl and whisk well. Stir through the grated truffle, parmesan and a pinch of seasoning.
Drop the fresh spaghetti into the boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Use tongs to transfer the cooked spaghetti to the frying pan, adding a good ladle of the cooking water. Pour over the egg mixture and toss with the pasta really well. Cook for a minute or so over the low heat, stirring/tossing the pan continuously until the sauce thickens and coats the pasta. Taste and season if necessary.
To serve, pile the spaghetti onto each plate and top with extra shavings of truffle and grated parmesan.