Tajarin with Crimini Mushroom in White Truffle Butter
Being a lover of Barolo, northern Italian cuisine, and all things Piedmont led me to entering the Ordine dei Cavalieri del Tartufo e dei Vini di Alba. Yes, I am an official Truffle Knight.
In all honesty, it was first my love for Barolo that introduced me to the group. The wines of the Cavalieri were rare, having been hand-picked from the top cellars of the region and given special labels bearing the name of the order. These bottles were numbered and often contained wines produced by the likes of Bartolo Mascarello, Giuseppe Rinaldi and the Produttori del Barbaresco. However, like most collectors, an obsession with Barolo will ultimately lead you to a love for White Truffles.
For anyone who hasn’t experienced a white truffle from a good season and source, let me just say that if humans had a reaction to a single item the same way that cats react to catnip, then white truffles would be it. They’re hunted using pigs and dogs trained specifically to search them out without eating them, and are then scurried away to be sold at a premium on the streets of the local towns of Piedmont. In fact, most people will tell you that the best truffles never make it out of Italy.
You can find them here in the United States, brought in by enthusiasts and lovers of Italian cuisine, but it will cost you. The last time I checked, two ounces of White Truffles would cost you $400 from the well-regarded Urbani.
It’s with this in mind that I share my Tajarin recipe with you, because it is the perfect pasta for Truffles. However, since not everyone has the means, or the desire, to pay the price for them, I’m also including a recipe for a Porcini Mushroom & Truffle Butter Sauce, which with the help of some White Truffle oil (which is far more affordable) can get you a little closer to the real thing.
Granted, if you have the real thing, simply make the pasta, melt a tablespoon of butter over it, season with salt, stir, and shave White Truffle on top to your heart’s content.
On to the Sauce
As for the sauce, I remember first learning about Beurre blanc, which is a classic French sauce made primarily from butter. As I tasted it, all of my senses swooned. How could something this good be so bad for you? We are taught to stay away from many foods these days. Some I agree with, such as trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. However, I think it’s more important to practice the good things in life in moderation. A sauce made primarily of whole butter may not be something you should eat every day, but if you deny yourself the indulgence every few weeks or once a month–you simply aren’t living.
This brings me to my recipe for Tajarin. This is a fresh egg yolk pasta prepared in a simple butter sauce.
Will it make you fat if you eat it every day? Yes.
Will it make you fat if you eat it once in a great while? Absolutely not.
Will it make you happy if you eat it once in a great while? Absolutely YES.
Finding The Perfect Pairing
A good Barbera can be found for $20, but if you’re making Tajarin, you may want to splurge for the top shelf, in which case I would recommend any of the following:
Vietti Barbera d’Asti La Crena Superiore Nizza 2012 – Intensity meets dark ripe fruit and teaming acidity in this forward and seductive Barbera from one of Piedmont’s superstar winemakers. Here it’s the acidity that cuts through the butter sauce to cleanse the palate for your next bite. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
Bartolo Mascarello Barbera d’Alba 2015 – A classic deserves a classic, and that’s what the Bartolo Mascarello Barbera will deliver, a traditional and classic expression of pure fruit and balance from the Historic house of Mascarello. Coupled with the ripeness of the 2015 vintage, you have a wine of earthy undertones, floral high notes and gorgeous fruit.
Roagna Barbera d’Alba 2013 – Luca Roagna may be getting a lot of praise for his Barolo and Barbaresco, but collectors in the know consider this uber naturalist to be just as famous for his Barbera. Here, it’s the saline-minerality, earth-tones and dark fruit that will perfectly contrast your truffles.
On to the Recipe
Tajarin with Crimini Mushroom and White Truffle Butter
Serves 4 – 6
2 cups AP Flour
8 Egg yolks plus 1 whole egg
2 Tbls. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbls. water
pinch of salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter
6 sage leaves
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms (Soak in 1 cup of warm water or stock for 30 minutes. Strain and cut into small pieces.)
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Small White Truffle (or White truffle oil)
Notes on fresh pasta: Fresh pasta takes patience. You will get better with practice, and I assure you, it’s worth it. If you have a stand-mixer with a pasta attachment, it will make this much easier. Otherwise, you can buy a manual pasta roller. You will also want to have a dough scraper handy.
Measure and sift the flour along with a pinch of salt. Beat the egg, yolks, olive oil and water. Place the flour on a clean countertop, and make a well in the center with your hand (big enough to pour the egg mixture into). Pour in the egg mixture. With a fork, slowly stir the egg mixture, and with each stir, skim a small amount of the flour into the mixture (be careful not to let the egg mixture pour out from the well). Continue doing this until the egg mixture has absorbed enough of the flour so that it is forming a dough.
With your hands, begin to knead the dough. At first, a pushing, folding, pushing motion is best to incorporate the remaining bits of flour and egg. Use your dough scraper to scrape any excess pieces from the countertop. Once the dough has incorporated fully, continue kneading in a circular motion. The idea is to form a ball and for a skin to develop that stretches over the ball. If the dough is too dry (cracking of crumbling), moisten your hands with a little olive oil and continue kneading.
When done, you should be able to press your finger to the top of the ball, forming an impression, and the dough should push back up in response.
Place the dough into a bowl and cover lightly with a piece of plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
Once rested, cut the dough into four equal quarters, using the dough scraper (you can wrap the dough and store it in the refrigerator for three days or a freezer for 2-4 weeks). Lightly flour your work surface. With a rolling pin, roll out one quarter (leave the rest covered.) Begin by processing it through a pasta roller (manual or automatic) on the widest setting. Then fold the dough in three (envelope fold), and roll it out again with your rolling pin. Put it through the pasta roller for three passes. Then reduce the setting on the pasta roller and put the dough through three more times. Continue doing this until you have rolled the pasta to your desired thickness. If the pasta begins to shrink after being rolled, cover it with plastic wrap for ten minutes to let it rest, and then continue to process once it’s rested.
Now that your pasta is at its desired thickness, you can cut it. A stand mixer has separate attachments to cut different-size pasta (I like tagliatelle for this preparation). However, you can just as easily use a dough scraper or pasty blade. After cutting, keep the pieces separated on a lightly floured surface.
To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Drop the pasta into the water, making sure that the pasta doesn’t stick or clump together. Once the water returns to a boil, allow it to cook for 1-2 minutes.
While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter over medium heat. Strain the pasta and douse with olive oil or truffle oil.
After draining the pasta, place it into the pan with the butter, sage, Porcini mushrooms, a healthy pinch of salt, and allow to cook for one minute. Remove from the stove, add half the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary, and plate.
At this time, if using a fresh truffle, grate the truffle over each mound of pasta, or, if using truffle oil, sprinkle just enough to add a vibrant aroma of truffle and serve. Have the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano out for your guests to sprinkle on top.
Credits and Resources
Article, Tasting Notes, Photos and Recipe by Eric Guido
The Official Website of: Ordine dei Cavalieri del Tartufo e dei Vini di Alba
View the selection of Barbera at Morrell Wine and Spirits
Find White Truffles at Urbani