Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas Eve Dinner

A couple of weeks ago I bought some duck foie gras from a woman from PĂ©rigord at the Salon Saveurs in Paris. What better time than Christmas Eve dinner to have some artisinal foie gras?
Bloc de Foie Gras de Canard du Perigord
I toasted some baguette and spread some chilled foie gras on top. This was served with a 1990 Ostertag Epfig SĂ©lection de Grains Nobles de Gewurztraminer, which I bought for Debbie's birthday years ago, and which survived our house fire. We were worried that it would be ruined, but instead it was amazing.
Foie Gras on Toast
I was too lazy to get out the tripod, so this isn't the greatest picture. After having foie gras, what else could one have but something with truffles? After checking out a recipe from Richard Olney in the French Menu cookbook, Debbie and I went over to Pike Place market, and bought about 4oz of black truffles from the a woman who calls herself the Truffle Queen, at the all-things-truffle shop. Olney's recipe, for truffled egg pasta, calls for a good 1/2lb of truffles, but we felt that was a bit much. I was way too lazy to consider making fresh egg noodles like Olney would have me do, and couldn't find any fresh egg noodles at the market, so I used Rustichella D'Abruzzo dried egg fettucine, which worked quite nicely. The recipe is pretty easy: slice the truffles 1/4"-1/8" thick, rub a couple of garlic cloves inside a heavy poleon or casserole, put the pot on extremely low heat and put in 1/4lb of unsalted butter (just enough heat to melt the butter, but not enough to cook anything) and add the sliced truffle when the butter melts.
Truffles in butter
Add some salt, plenty of pepper, and 1-2Tbsp of Cognac. Let the sliced truffles bathe in the butter, tightly covered, for about 10 minutes, and then start cooking the pasta (which took about 5 minutes). The idea is to heat the truffles enough to infuse the butter with flavor. When the pasta is ready, drain it well, add to the pot, toss a bit, and leave it for a few more minutes. Then add another 1/4lb or so of butter cut in small cubes and toss together to bind it, and serve. Boy, was it good. Olney says that peeling truffles is a matter of personal taste. This was the first time I've cooked with fresh truffles. I have to say, next time I probably would peel them, because the skin is rather rough and crunchy. One can save the peelings to use in a Beef Wellington.
Egg Noodles with Truffles
This particular menu in the cookbook is followed by a salad and then a dessert, but we had some Pannetone with candied chestnuts instead.