Truffles, black truffles, tuber melanosporum, good ones, are so fragrant that you can smell them when you walk into the room. Dizzying is just about the aroma level you’re looking for when it comes to truffles. The smell is distinctive, very earthy, almost barnyardish and, like all food scents, it influences taste. I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t liked a truffle and I’ve met lots and lots of people who love them so inordinately that they dream about them.
The truffle’s aroma is so strong – and fleeting – that as soon as you get it home, you should either wrap it really well and freeze it, if you’re not going to use it immediately, or put the aroma to good use by packing the truffle in a jar of rice (do this if you’re going to make truffle risotto), a covered container of potatoes (a potato gratin with truffles is both luxe and luscious), or in a jar of eggs in their shells, if you’re going to make this or any other egg dish.
To make truffle cream, brush the truffle clean, the way you would a mushroom (the truffle’s closest cousin), peel it (taking away as little of the inner truffle as possible) and chop the peel. If you have to trim the truffle in any other way, save and these trimmings too.
Pour heavy cream into a covered jar, add the truffle peels and trimmings, cover, shake and keep in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours or for up to 1 week, shaking the jar frequently. To serve the cream as a sauce, take it out of the refrigerator early enough to have it reach room temperature. If you’d like warm sauce or a thicker one, strain the cream into a saucepan and cook it until it’s just warm or until it reaches the consistency you like. When the cream is ready, stir in the chopped truffle. (Truffles are best when they’re not heated too much.)
If this recipe appeals to you, but you don’t have truffles (as most of us don’t most of the time), you can use the same technique with very fragrant mushrooms. Porcini would be great and you can make the cream with either fresh or dried mushrooms. If you make the cream with dried mushrooms, I’d dip them quickly in very hot water – you don’t want the mushrooms to give the lion’s share of their flavor to the water, but you do want to get rid of any grit that might be tucked inside their folds – and then add the mushrooms to the cream.
As for the eggs, they’re your regular eggs sunny-side up.
To make the dish, cook the eggs, slide them onto a warm plate, pour around a little of the cream and then, at the very last second – or, better yet, at the table – shave thin slices of truffle over the piping hot eggs. You can shave the truffles with a Benriner slicer
or a small elegant mandolin made especially for truffles
Now wouldn’t that and a nice knobby truffle make the perfect stocking stuffer?