As the autumn months unfurl, truffles begin showing up on menus across the country. The knobby fungi command thousands of dollars per pound, making them one of the priciest ingredients around. Chefs love to feature them because of their singular, umami-rich flavor, which can take even the simplest of dishes to stunning heights. Here are 10 over-the-top truffle dishes.
Vintage Carnaroli Risotto at Everest, Chicago, Illinois
Carnaroli rice is widely regarded as the best option for risotto because it helps create a creamier texture. Since the grains are slightly longer than other options, they retain their shape better when black Perigord truffles are mixed in. The heat of the dish releases their decadent aroma, amplifying their deep flavors. Make a reservation at Everest.
Soft Polenta with an Organic Egg at Toscana, Los Angeles, California
Italians call this dish polenta con uovo e tartufo bianco, but we Americans know it simply as soft polenta with an organic egg and white truffles. Pop the yolk and mix the sunny liquid with the creamy polenta as the truffles exude their trademark scent. Though it’s a dinner item, we think it would be the most perfect breakfast in the world. Make a reservation at Toscana.
Alaska King Crab Gnocchi at Mastro’s, New York, New York
Decadence personified. Sweet king crab meat is mixed with sharp aged cheddar to add a slight bite, pillowy potato gnocchi, and earthy black truffles. Taken together in a single forkful, the components unite to form a flavor that manages to simultaneously recall the countryside and the deep blue. Make a reservation at Mastro’s.
Boudin Blanc at Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier, Washington, D.C.
Created in the Champagne Ardenne region, boudin blanc is one of France’s finest inventions. Chef Robert Wiedmaier’s version is spot on, served with caramelized onions, bacon lardons, and a black truffle mushroom puree that is the perfect counterpoint to the light sausage plumped up with foie gras and pheasant. Make a reservation at Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier.
Smoked Ricotta Gnudi at L’Amico, New York, New York
Gnudi are plump, pillowy gnocchi-styled dumplings that seem to melt in your mouth because they’re made with smoked ricotta instead of potatoes. Executive chef Laurent Tourondel lavishes the savory spheres with a sage brown butter and freshly shaved black truffles. Prepared to be wowed. Make a reservation at L’Amico.
Orecchiette Tartufate at Sophia’s, Austin, Texas
Hats off to this primo pasta. Orecchiette are tossed with cremini mushrooms, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. The dish features a truffle triple threat: black truffle cream, white truffle oil, and shaved white truffles. Make a reservation at Sophia’s.
Risotto Bianco at Little Owl, New York, New York
Many truffle dishes err on the side of simplicity so the fungi’s flavors shine. This risotto dish arrives with a runny yolk nestled at its center. Then white truffles galore are shaved on until you say stop or your credit card gets declined. Make a reservation at Little Owl.
Scallop Risotto at Le Petit Paris, Los Angeles, California
Scallops hide in the silky depths of this classically executed risotto from chefs Jeremie Cazes and Baptiste Grellier. They coronate the ivory hillock with asparagus tips and slender rounds of black truffles. Champagne not included — but highly recommended. Make a reservation at Le Petit Paris.
Ricotta Cappellacci at Scarpetta, New York, New York
Cousin to the ravioli, these plump purses are pocketed with ricotta cheese. The modest pasta becomes an extravagance with the addition of white truffles. Lean over the plate as the slender slices fall onto the warm cappellacci to inhale as the heat releases their rich aroma. Make a reservation at Scarpetta.
Beef Cheeks at Bibiana, Washington, D.C.
You’re going to have to take a night off your diet if you want to eat this extravagance from executive chef Jake Addeo. He stuffs beef cheek with chestnuts and porcini mushrooms and then enhances the whole proposition with black garlic butter. And did we mention black truffles? There’s a bunch of those in the mix, too. Make a reservation at Bibiana.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.
Photo credits: Ryan Tanaka (La Petit Paris); Sophia’s (Sophia’s); Everest (Richard Hellyer); Elisabetta Antonacci (Toscana); Scott Suchman (Marcel’s); Littel Owl (August Goulet).