Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Live A Little: Tajarin in Truffle Butter

A recipe and pairing by: Eric Guido

I remember learning about Beurre blanc, 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.

Add to that a little White Truffle (if you're willing to afford it) or some white truffle oil, and you have decadence on a plate. This is a dish that will seduce your guests.  As for a pairing; staying local is best, serve it with a Barbera, Freisa or a Langh Nebbiolo.

A good Barbera can be found for $15 - $20, but if you're making Tajarin, you may want to splurge for the top shelf, in which case I would recommend 2010 Giacomo Conterno Barbara Cascina Francia - The nose was enticing with massive waves of aroma wafting up from the glass, which seemed to change and intensify with each swirl. Showing dark ripe strawberry, brown sugar, cedar dust, menthol, floral undergrowth and, at times, a slight rustic note of barnyard. On the palate, it was tightly knit and focused with a balance towards acidity, as it revealed ripe red berries, sour patch apple, exotic spice and inner floral tones. It finished dry with berry extract seeming to coat the entire palate. (92 Points) Find it on: Wine-Searcher!

Tajarin with Crimini Mushroom and White Truffle Butter

Serves 4 – 6

The Pasta
2 cups AP Flour
8 Egg yolks plus 1 whole egg
2 Tbls. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbls. water
pinch of salt

The Sauce
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 counter-top 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 3 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 it’s 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, Procini 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.


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