Monday, July 19, 2010

How to make truffle butter

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Black summer truffles (photo: Robyn Skwarczek)

When planning the menu for Trufflepalooza 2010, my recent 13-course truffle orgy, several condiments from my friends at Sabatino Tartufi figured prominently. I have these items in my pantry all the time, not just during truffle season:
Sabatino also makes a beautiful truffle butter, but when I have truffles in hand, I prefer to make my own truffle butter. The truffle butter you can buy comes in tiny little tubs, and we go through a lot of truffle butter when we're in the mood, so I actually think it's cost-effective to make your own. (Don't hold me to that; I'm not a numbers girl, I haven't done the math, and it depends how much you pay for your fresh truffles.)

More reasons to make your own truffle butter: I like the delicate flavor of homemade butter. And I like the look on people's faces when I tell them I made my own butter. Which, by the way, is so easy you're going to laugh. Get out your food processor and you're ready to go.

Radish truffle butter tartines (photo: Lentil Breakdown)

What to do with truffle butter? I spread it on slices of baguette (toasted or not) and top it with paper-thin radishes and a sprinkle of truffle salt (see: Tartines with radishes and truffle butter). At the inaugural Trufflepalooza in 2009, I sauteed chunks of filet mignon and then tossed them in truffle butter.

 Open-faced filet mignon sandwiches with truffle butter (photo: Lentil Breakdown)

This year, to change things up, we grilled the filet mignon, cut it thinly, and draped slices of meat over truffle-buttered-baguette, then topped with grated fresh truffle and a dusting of truffle salt. This dish elicited the best quote of Trufflepalooza 2010, from a friend who shall remain nameless until she tells me it's okay to identify her: "If you'd seen me when I tasted that, you would have seen my 'O' face." I repeated this to my mother and it took a full five minutes and some very specific prompting for her to understand. I'm assuming everyone else gets it.

Of course, homemade truffle butter is at its finest atop a good piece of bread, all alone, preferably in a dark room (candlelight, even), with a good glass of wine nearby. Remember to inhale deeply.

How to make truffle butter
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 tsp white or black truffle oil
  • 1/4 tsp truffle salt, or to taste
  • 1 fresh black summer truffle (you won't need the whole thing)
Line a colander with a few coffee filters; rip them open and lay them in so that the colander has one layer of filter throughout, more or less. Place the colander in the sink. 

Pour the cream into the bowl of a food processor. Turn on the processor. Go do something else for a few minutes while the machine does its thing.

When you hear the noise change and things sound a bit sloshy, go back and look. You'll know when it's done - the butter solids will have separated from the buttermilk and will be clumped together. Stop the processor. You'll probably see one big clump of butter, and then some smaller clumps drifting in the liquid.

Lift out the butter solids with your hand and squeeze a little to get some of the liquid out. Put the butter in the colander. Fish out the little bits of butter and add those to the colander. I don't save the liquid unless my father-in-law is around - he likes to drink it.

Knead the butter a little in the colander to get some more of the liquid out. Then let the butter drain for about 30 minutes. Put a paper towel on top and press down to get the remaining liquid out. The butter will still be quite soft, which is good. Turn it into a mixing bowl.

Add the truffle oil, truffle salt, and grated truffle to the fresh butter and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until it's combined thoroughly. Taste and add more salt if you like your butter salty. Refrigerate the butter in a container lined with paper towels or more coffee filters. It will keep in the refrigerator about a week, and in the freezer as long as you might possibly be able to resist it (in our case, about six months).


Paulette said...

I'm new to the party, so apologies if you've answered this many times over, but from where do you get your truffles? And how do you do it without going broke?

Monet said...

As you know, I love bread...and I can only imagine how divine a slather of this truffle butter must taste on a loaf of freshly baked bread. This would be heaven.

Lentil Breakdown said...

Ha ha. I get the quote (and it wasn't me who said it!). However I did say something quoteworthy that I actually wrote down when I got home. When there was no more prep work left, I said, "Sometimes you don't know you're having fun until you're not having it anymore."

Erika Kerekes said...

@Paulette - I get my truffles from the LA rep for Sabatino Tartufi, one of the major Italian truffle importers into the US. If you're not lucky enough to know a truffle dealer (and I recommend it highly if at all possible, it has tremendous perks), a local gourmet store should have some in season. You're in LA too, right? Surfas or Bay Cities should have them (although call first). Or cozy up to the chef at an Italian restaurant - he'll probably sell you one from his stash or introduce you to his connection.

As for going broke - summer truffles are much less expensive than winter truffles. They usually retail for $300-400 per pound, as opposed to the thousands for the winter truffles. It's my summer splurge. And I can't afford to throw Trufflepalooza with winter truffles.

@Monet - Divine doesn't even begin to describe it.

@Lentil - that is also an excellent quote, and pretty much describes my life in the kitchen!

Sippity Sup said...

Let me pass along my own quote... "Oh my GAWWWWWWWD, that's good!" GREG

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks said...

Great post. I don't know much about truffles so you've expanded my world and here's another reason to live near LA . . . Trufflepalooza.

Rachael Hutchings said...

I have to say that those radish truffle butter tartines were one of my favorites. SO darn good! I loved the filet mignon sandwiches and the salad as well. I'm still giggling about that comment...

My Man's Belly said...

This post could also be called "How to Make Friends." I was fortunate to be a guest at Trufflepalooza 2010 and am still dreaming about all of that fantastic food.

My favorite was the filet with truffle butter (and those creations we made with it later).

Hilary Cable said...

I sent this page to a friend on Facebook just now; every time I look at your truffle posts, I am dazzled all over again. Can't wait to 3.0!

Erika Kerekes said...

@Hilary - truffles still make me weak at the knees. Already planning the menu for 3.0. Now to figure out how, exactly, to get it all done....

She Paused 4 Thought said...

I licked the bowl dry when I made this butter - it is SO AMAZING! I wasn't a fan of butter until I tried this.

Unknown said...

Hi - how long will homemade truffle butter last in the fridge before it goes 'off'?


Erika Kerekes said...

@Belinda - about a week. After that, you can keep it in the freezer up to three or four months.

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