Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tasting of Potatoes with Black Truffles

Wow, I can't believe a month has slipped by since i've last posted.  It's been a busy month.  Christmas, skiing, parties, working (boo!), and some exciting news to come helped December and the first half of January fly by.

Where was I with this dinner thing?  Oh yeah, second course.  Tasting of Potatoes.  It doesn't sound that fancy when you read it - it's basically a recipe for glorified mashed potatoes.  But after making potatoes this way, I never want to go back to plain ol' Thanksgiving mashed potatoes again (notwithstanding that this recipe is so finicky and exacting that it would be near impossible to make it as part of a dinner served all at once). 

I started with the truffle chips.  Unlike 'Tasting of potatoes,' truffle chips do *not* sound like something we would have at a holiday meal.  They were surprisingly easy to prepare, but at the same time, had some issues with the cooking.

First I shaped a potato into something resembling an oval (look at how many scraps I had trying to get there!):

Then I thinly sliced potatoes and a truffle using my Japanese mandoline (and my new 'cut-proof gloves' - a worthy $15 investment if, like me, you need fingers to work), and laid a truffle between two potato slices on a buttered-salted sheet.  Notice how the ones on the right are sliced much thicker.  If you want the chips to cook in normal amounts of time, make them as absolutely thin as you can.

And, like an hour later, truffle chips!  They weren't as crispy as I imagine they should have been.  Were I to make them again (and I think i'm supposed to for 'Chips and Dip'), I would cook them in the over until they were really "stuck" then try deep drying them.  Not that this is guaranteed to work, but it would take a lot less time than the HOUR they spent backing (with me examining them every 10 minutes saying '.... still not chip-looking, hopefully more time will do it.'

Extreme close-up!

The truffle chips were definitely the most time consuming step.  Next I (gently) boiled some potatoes, put them through the tamis, and then basically created an emulsion with ungodly amounts of cream and butter.  Best mashed potatoes ever.
Finally, I cut what felt like a million fingerling-type potatoes into tiny pieces, blanched, then cooked with some truffle bits, truffle stock, and brunoise until it got thick.  Well, thick-ish.  It said to blanch the potatoes for 3 minutes (an insanely short time, but it makes sense when they are all fingernail-sized), then to add vinegar/stock/etc, and reduce.  I think it should have reduced longer, but I didn't want to spoil the potatoes or have them break, so we went with 'not-quite-thick' potato-topping-stuff.

See?  Looks a little runny.

But it tasted delicious; earthy and rich.  I really liked it.  Not loved, though.  I think that maybe, at heart, i'm just not a huge fan of truffles (blasphemy in the foodie world, i'm sure).  It's funny, because I love mushrooms, but I just feel like truffles are overwhelming.  I thought maybe it was just a white truffle oil thing - because that stuff IS overwhelming - but it applies to black winter truffles too.  Still, the potato-emulsification was awesomeness, something that I am going to repeat (but never after a workout, because, dude! all the stirring hurt my arms).