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Tajarin with Fresh White Truffle

from Caviar, Truffles, and Foie Gras by Katherine Alford


3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more salt to taste
4 large eggs at room temperature
8 large egg yolks at room temperature
Fine cornmeal for dusting
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
1 cup chicken stock
2 to 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 ounces fresh white truffle

Serves 6 to 8

Tajarin are the unforgettable fresh egg-yolk-rich noodles of the Piedmont region of Italy, the heart of white truffle country. The noodles, which are almost saffron yellow due to the farmhouse yolks, are the customary accompaniment to fresh white truffles. There is a culinary bravura to recipes for tajarin, which can max out with up to 40 egg yolks per kilo of flour. Making handmade noodles is definitely a commitment, but when you are slicing fresh white truffles, it is worth the effort.

1. Mound the flour and the 2 teaspoons salt on a clean work space and make a well in the center. Crack the whole eggs into the welI and add the egg yolks. Break up the eggs and yolks with a fork and gradually combine them with the flour by stirring bits of flour into the well with the fork. Use your other hand to move the flour around to keep the eggs from running out of the flour. (It is like moving the walls of a sand castle to keep the water inside.) Keep mixing the flour into the eggs until all the eggs have been absorbed and you have a rough dough. Knead the dough until smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic and set aside for 1 hour at room temperature. Do not refrigerate the dough, or it becomes pasty.

2. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and cover with a towel. Flatten a piece with a rolling pin into a rectangle that will fit through the widest setting of a pasta machine. Feed the dough through the machine, then fold the flattened dough like a business letter. Pass the folded dough through the machine again. Repeat until the dough is satiny smooth, 3 to 4 times. Close the machine's rollers down by 1 notch and feed the dough through the machine. Repeat this at each setting down to the next-to-last setting. To prevent the dough from scrunching up in the rollers, pull lightly on the part of the dough feeding into the rollers to keep an even tension. (If the dough gets too long to pass through easily, cut the piece in half.)

Lay the sheet of pasta out to dry on a large towel or tablecloth. Roll the rest of the dough. Let the dough dry slightly until it is not tacky but is still pliable, about 20 minutes. (If the dough gets too dry, it will not cut properly.)

3. Cut the dough into foot-long pieces. Pass the sheets through the tagliatelle cutters of the pasta machine. Dust the pasta with cornmeal and twist it into nests. Set on a rack to dry for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.

4. When ready to serve, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it liberally. Add the pasta and stir to prevent clumps. Cook at a rapid boil until the pasta is al dente, 2 to 5 minutes, depending on how long the pasta has been drying.

5. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or large skillet, whisk 6 tablespoons of the butter with the chicken stock over low heat. Drain the pasta and toss in the pan with the remaining 6 tablespoons butter and the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the pasta among 6 to 8 warmed shallow bowls. Serve immediately. Shave paper-thin slices of truffles over the pasta at the table.

This and many other wonderful recipes may be found in
Katherine Alford's Caviar, Truffles, and Foie Gras from Chronicle Books


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