PIEMONTE MARCHESE & TRUFFLE for 2 DECEMBER - STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS

If you were to hop on a plane to Turin, jump in a car, and head south, and slightly east, you might eventually come across the town of Alba. Here, truffles are celebrated like no other place on earth. The local cuisine has evolved to elevate this already most esteemed of foodstuffs; pasta enriched with more egg yolks than is proper, fatty cheeses and butter melted to fonduta or whipped with mountain greens to form chubby little dumplings. The food here shares little with the south, and much more with the alpine traditions of neighbouring countries - France in particular - but it is nevertheless distinctively Italian, and all the better for it. 

This is a very rich and indulgent menu: loosen your top button… 

Anchovies col verde
Tonnarelli al tartufo
Trout with breadcrumbs & white polenta
Nutmeggy spinach
Grappa pannacotta

 

For your meal you will need:

  • A plate for the anchovies and a serving dish for the pannacotta
  • An oven tray for the trout 

Anchovies col verde

I met this dish in Barbaresco, on a wine trip to visit producers in the Langhe. It was love at first sight. As in many landlocked zones of Italy, the local fish cuisine revolves around salted anchovies and salted cod. This preparation is particularly delightful, and the presentation (burying the fish under a carpet of green, rather than dressing them with the parsley and mixing), one of my proudest moments. 

 

Your pack serves two as a starter and contains:

  • Anchovies from Cantabria. We have filleted them for you, and soaked them just enough to plum them and make the saltiness tolerable
  • Finely chopped flat-leaf parsley and purple garlic
  • Olive oil made by Jacob’s friend Jacqui at La Bandiera

 

Directions:

  • Pack 1: Lay the anchovy fillets neatly to fill the centre of a smallish plate in a single layer
  • Pack 2: Spread the finely chopped parsley and garlic in a dense, even layer over the anchovies, taking care to cover them completely, but keep the rim of the plate clean. It should look like a disc of green velvet when you’re done
  • Pack 3: Drizzle the oil evenly over the parsley
  • You can serve the anchovies col verde straightaway, or keep them a few days in the fridge – but in the latter case, allow them to warm enough for the oil to melt before serving.

 

Tonnarelli  al tartufo

The classic pasta from Alba is tajarin –rich, wafer-thin noodles made only with egg yolks & flour. Tonnarelli are still rather fine, but a little fatter; easier to cook and with a pleasing bite. Here, we toss them with a fonduta of butter, parmesan, and yet more egg yolks. Sometimes too much is just right. *We will send you a whole truffle for 4, to be enjoyed by 2, for which this dish is a perfect vehicle

 

Your pack serves two as a starter and contains:

  • Enough tonnarelli for two
  • A truffle for four, to be eaten by two
  • A pack of fonduta

 

Directions:

  • Bring a large pan of well-salted (10g/lt) water to the boil
  • Empty the fonduta into a heatproof bowl
  • Drop the tonnarelli into the water, and stir vigorously to prevent sticking
  • Sit the bowl of fonduta on top, and stir gently to warm through a little
  • When the tonnarelli are ready (3-4 minutes) drain them, and add to the sauce along with a little of their cooking water
  • If the sauce seems a bit loose, sit the bowl back on top of the pan, and cook in the steam for a minute or two
  • Put the pasta on plates, and shave/grate vast quantities of truffle on top

 

 

Trout with breadcrumbs & white polenta

In Val Maira, a long and remote valley in Cuneo, I ate the best trout of my life. It was fresh from the river that ran past the restaurant, and was stuffed with breadcrumbs lightly spiced with cinnamon, cloves, lemon & thyme and enriched with a little parmesan. It was spectacular.

 

Your pack serves two as a starter and contains:

  • Two parcels of trout stuffed with delicately spiced breadcrumbs
  • A knob of butter& handful of sage leaves
  • A lemon wedge
  • Some white polenta with another knob of butter

 

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 210C (fan) or 230C (static)
  • Line an oven tray with greaseproof, then sit the trout on top, well spaced
  • Tuck the sage leaves under and around the trout, and the butter on top
  • Cook for 8-10 minutes; until the trout is just cooked, the butter bubbling and golden and the sage aromatic
  • Squeeze over the lemon, then sit the trout on plates, and pour over the cooking juices
  • Meanwhile, heat the white polenta in a saucepan over a medium heat, adding a splash of water if it is too thick. Whisk until smooth and piping hot, then whisk in the butter
  • Serve alongside the trout

 

 

Nutmeggy spinach

Nutmeg is a classic seasoning for spinach. In this quick side dish, its aroma blossoms and marries lovingly together with spinach.

 

Grappa Pannacotta

This is not really a true pannacotta; it in fact contains no cream - ‘panna’ – whatsoever. Instead, I use yoghurt for a lighter result and a gentle acidity, and flavour it with milk perfumed with the ethereal scent of grappa. 

 

Your pack serves two and contains:

  • 2 pannacotta

 

Directions:

  • Gently unmould the pannacotta. Slip a small, thin knife down the sides and work your way around, then invert onto a plate