It's my annual Black Truffle Cooking Class this week, and we are knee-deep in fresh truffles here in Provence, the homeland of the 'black diamond'. So I couldn't help but share this simple but wonderful truffle recipe of mine that combines two of my most favorite French ingredients: oysters, and of course black truffles. The sauce here is amazing and versatile. How could the combination of oyster liquor, cream, butter, and truffle juice be bad? The silken texture of the warmed oyster creates a fine contrast to the crunch of the truffle matchsticks. An all round winner!
Warm Oysters wih Truffle Cream and Truffles
4 servings | Equipment: A fine-mesh sieve; a flat ovenproof serving dish; a small jar with a lid; a mandoline or a very sharp knife.
12 large fresh oysters
1 cup (280 g) coarse sea salt
1 fresh black truffle (about 1 ounce; 30 g), cleaned
1/4 cup (60 ml) Truffle Cream (see recipe below)
About 1 tablespoon truffle juice
2 teaspoons (10 g) butter (truffled, if you have it on hand)
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
How to make truffle cream:
It was chef Joël Robuchon who drilled into my head the phrase “fat fixes flavor.” When I began working with truffles, I searched for every way possible to capture their elusive flavor and aroma. A rich, heavy cream does the trick. I use it liberally during truffle season.
Makes 2 cups (500 ml)
Equipment: A jar, with a lid.
5 tablespoons (1 ounce; 30 g) minced fresh black truffle peelings
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
1. In a jar, combine the truffles and cream. Cover securely and shake to blend. Refrigerate at least 2 days before using. (The mixture will stay fresh, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for 1 week.)
Note: My favorite truffle supplier in Provence, Plantin in the village of Puymeras, supplies the top chefs in the world with fresh truffles from November to March, and with preserved truffle products year-round. Products can be purchased from their web site.
1. Open the oysters, cut the muscle to extract it from the shell, and filter the oyster liquor through the sieve set over a small saucepan.
2. Cover the bottom of the ovenproof serving dish (it should be large enough to hold the oysters in a single layer) with a thin layer of the coarse salt. Place the opened oysters in their shells on the bed of salt to keep them stable. Refrigerate. Within about 15 minutes, the oysters will give off a second, even more flavorful oyster liquor.
3. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the oven about 5 inches (12.5 cm) from the heat source. Preheat the broiler.
4. With a vegetable peeler, peel the truffle. Mince the truffle peelings, place in the small jar, and tighten the lid. Reserve the peelings for another use (to make truffle salt or truffle butter for example). With the mandoline or very sharp knife, cut the truffle into thick slices. Cut the slices into matchsticks.
5. In the saucepan containing the reserved oyster liquor, add the cream and truffle juice and bring to a simmer over low heat. Whisk the butter and the lemon juice into the sauce, whisking vigorously to give it volume. If the sauce appears too thick, thin it with additional truffle juice. Add half the truffle matchsticks and just warm them gently. Do not cook them.
6. Spoon the sauce over the oysters. Place the baking dish under the broiler and cook just until the oysters are warmed through, no more than 20 to 25 seconds. The sea-fresh aroma of oysters should begin filling the air as they warm up.
7. Cover 4 plates with the coarse sea salt to keep the oysters stable. Arrange 3 of the oysters on each plate. Garnish with the remaining truffle matchsticks. Serve.
Wine suggestion: With oysters, I always reach for a Picpoul de Pinet, a white that grows near the Mediterranean oyster beds. It is made with 100 percent Picpoul grape, and has a distinct acidity and a pleasing, spicy finish. Another great choice is always a Sauvignon Blanc, either a Sancerre or Quincy.