Chef Michael Hutchings "Shaving" White Alba Truffles
Ingredients are a driving, critical component of fine dining or even simple every-day cooking. The old saw is you can't cook in quality, only enhance it. White winter truffles from Alba, Italy are one of the great culinary treasures. The White Winter Truffle Market does quality checks to guarantee quality and type. The flesh has a light whitish reddish brownish cast with white veins. Its aroma is reminiscent of garlic, shallot and aged Swiss cheese. They are best served raw, typically served over pasta or risotto. Cooking the truffle diminishes the aroma. Any residual soil covering the truffle provides a protective layer that conserves flavor and aroma, and even allows the truffle to continue its ripening.
Just prior to serving, the truffles must be cleaned of residual soil. Besides general rules of food hygiene, the truffle has to be cleaned because its outer peel (peridium) is never thrown away. Like with the inner mass (gleba) the truffle’s peel has flavor and aroma.
Here are a few notes from Wikipedia:
The "white truffle" or "trifola d'Alba Madonna" ("Truffle of the White Mother" in Italian) (Tuber magnatum) is found mainly in the Langhe and Montferrat areas of the Piedmont region in northern Italy and, most famously, in the countryside around the cities of Alba and Asti; Acqualagna, in the northern part of Le Marche near Urbino, is another renowned center for the production and commercialization of white truffles and the annual festival is one of the most important in Italy.
White truffle can also be found in Molise, Abruzzo and in the hills around San Miniato, in Tuscany. It is also found on the Istria peninsula, in Croatia in the Motovun forest along the Mirna river,and in Slovenia along the Dragonja and Rizana river, as well as in the Drome area in France. Growing symbiotically with oak, hazel, poplar and beech and fruiting in autumn, they can reach 12 cm (5 in) diameter and 500 g, though are usually much smaller. The flesh is pale cream or brown with white marbling. Italian white truffles are very highly esteemed and are the most valuable on the market: The white truffle market in Alba is busiest in the months of October and November when the Fiera del Tartufo (truffle fair) takes place. In 2001, the Tuber magnatum truffles sold for between $1000–$2200 per pound ($2000–$4500 per kg); as of December 2009 they were being sold at $14,203.50 per kilogram. Current wholesale prices in early fall 2016 range from $2,200-2,600 U.S. depending on size and shape.
Here are a few tips on storing and cleaning truffles.
•Store truffles in a sealed container, buries in arborio rice. The rice will be flavored and it helps to keep the truffle surface dry and makes a terrific risotto as a bonus.
• Always wash your hands before handling truffles. Truffles quickly absorb outside smells
• Rinse the truffle under cold running water for about 30 seconds. Rinse only a few minutes before use.
• If you have a large sized truffle only rinse the portion of truffle you intend to use.
• Gently brush the truffle with a soft bristle brush to remove the soil.
• Pat the truffle dry with white absorbent paper towel.
• Slice paper-thin using a special truffle slicer or chop the truffle if ready to commence cooking or serving the dish.