Black autumn truffles (Tuber Uncinatum) are in season and they are not as expensive as white truffles (Tuber Magnatum Pico). They are also not as fragrant, but for fragrant truffles their freshness is more important than their color. I’ve already written about risotto with dried truffles and truffle oil, but dried truffles and truffle oil are poor substitutes for the real thing. When you buy fresh truffles, make sure they are still very fragrant when you buy them, and use them as soon as possible.
If you have to store the truffles for a day and you are going to make risotto, then the best thing is to store the truffles in the refrigerator in an airtight container with the rice that you are going to use for the risotto! The rice will absorb any moisture (that would otherwise cause mold on the truffles) and will absorb any loss of flavor.
Truffles have a delicate earthy flavor and the best way to enjoy them is with a very simple risotto made with a mushroom stock. For the mushroom stock I’ve used fresh mushrooms, dried porcini mushrooms, and aromatic vegetables. Most of the truffles I grated and stirred into the risotto, the remaining truffle was used for garnish. If you can afford it, use white truffle (in season soon!) instead of black truffle. White truffle is much more fragrant, but also at least 5 times more expensive. If you are used to the overpowering aroma of truffle oil and you have never tasted fresh truffle before, you may be disappointed by the elegance of the flavor of fresh truffles. If you must, add a drop, but only a drop, of good quality truffle oil made from actual truffles (not the chemical stuff).
130 grams (2/3 cup) risotto rice
70 grams (2.5 oz) fresh truffles
80 ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine
1 shallot, minced
750 ml (3 cups) mushroom stock (see below)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
25 grams (1 oz) dried porcini mushrooms
250 grams (.55 lb) fresh mushrooms
1 tomato, quartered
80 grams (1/3 cup) chopped celery
80 grams (1/3 cup) chopped carrot
80 grams (1/3 cup) chopped onion
Combine all the ingredients for the stock in a stockpot and cover with water (about 750 ml/3 cups). Cover, bring to a boil, and allow to simmer for an hour. Then strain, pushing down on the solids to extract as much stock as possible. Since the stock will be used for risotto, it is okay if it is cloudy. Keep the stock simmering for making the risotto.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and the tablespoon of olive oil in a wide thick-bottomed pan. Add the shallot and sauté over medium low heat for about 5 minutes or until the shallot is soft and fragrant.
The aroma of truffles works well with Barolo or Barbaresco. As the flavor of truffle is very elegant, a Barbaresco or elegant Barolo will be a better match than a heavy Barolo.
Another risotto, this one much more humble than truffle risotto: carrot risotto. The flavor of the carrots is enhanced by roasting them. What would also work, or perhaps even better, is to pressure cook the carrots with baking powder to caramelize them.