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Trout with Truffles

from Umbria by Julia Della Croce
Trout with Truffles

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, cut up, plus 2 large cloves, bruised
1 celery stalk with leaves, cut into several pieces
1 carrot, peeled and quartered
1 onion, quartered
1 handful fresh italian parsley, stems, and leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 very fresh trout, each about 3/4 pound, or equivalent weight (4 pounds total) smaller trout between 8 and 12 inches in length, cleaned and well rinsed
2 black truffles, brushed clean
freshly ground black pepper

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by Julia Della Croce from Chronicle Books

What an interesting contrast of foods in this quintessential Umbrian dish: the homely black truffle, which grows beneath the earth and explodes with aroma and flavor under the pestle, with the sweet, benign flesh of the river trout. What brings the two together is the morbidezza, "softness," of Umbrian olive oil, which is at once gentle and full of fruit.

Some 2 to 3 hours before you plan to cook the fish, set the olive oil to marinate with the cut-up garlic in a small ceramic or glass bowl.

When it is time to begin cooking, fill with water a fish poacher or a deep skillet large enough to accommodate the whole trout without crowding them (about 8 cups water). Add the celery, carrot, onion, the bruised garlic, parsley, and peppercorns and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.

Measure the thickness of the fish at the thickest part, then calculate the cooking time, figuring 10 minutes cooking time per inch of thickness. Add the salt to the water, reduce the heat to low, and carefully lower the fish into the barely simmering water. Poach gently for the estimated cooking time minus 1 minute. The fish should be just opaque throughout when tested with a knife.

Using a large slotted metal spatula, transfer the fish to a platter. Scrape off the skin while the fish is still warm. Debone each fish carefully to remove the spine, but leave the head and tail intact.

While the fish is still quite warm, strain the olive oil to remove the garlic. In a mortar and pestle, crush and then pound the truffles directly into the infused oil and stir in the pepper to taste. Immediately spoon about half of the truffle paste onto the warm fish to keep the flesh moist and penetrate the surface with its flavor.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Spoon the remaining truffle paste over the fish to taste, or pass it at the table.

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