Goat Cheese Cannelloni with Morels and Truffles
truf·fle noun /ˈtrəfəl/
Truffles, plural A strong-smelling underground fungus that resembles an irregular, rough-skinned potato, growing chiefly in broad-leaved woodland on calcareous soils. It is considered a culinary delicacy and found, especially in France, with the aid of trained dogs or pigs.
If you’ve ever experienced a dish with the earthy intoxication of a shaved truffle then you already know what the fuss is about. If you haven’t, then you should put them on your Christmas list asap. They’re admittedly extremely pricey, but once you’ve tried them you’ll understand why. Typcially, a small amount of truffle will be shaven on top of a simple dish – you don’t want competing flavors – so not much is needed.
White truffles are most prized, however this means they’re also the most expensive. Just one white truffle is so expensive it’s almost unbelievable. You can also start off with some Italian Winter Black Truffles; still pricey but much less so. Or just start your truffle journey with a simple truffle oil; a far less expensive choice but still a great way to finish a simple dish and transform it to something extraordinary.
Once you have your truffles, you may want to check out this new cookbook from Patricia Wells, Simply Truffles: Recipes and Stories That Capture the Essence of the Black Diamond. It’s filled with not just recipes, but also the history and folklore of the Black Diamond truffle. It’s an interesting read with some inspiring recipes and ways to use them. Here’s a video for the book; it’s slightly odd since they didn’t add music, so just hum a little tune while you watch it:
I’m also sharing her recipe for Goat Cheese Cannelloni with Morels and Truffles. It’s a bit time consuming but oh…my….worth every minute. It’s one of those recipes that you pull out when you really want something snazzy to show off with – or when you just want something snazzy to enjoy all to yourself.
You might also wish to check out this article by David Lebovitz on Truffle Hunting in France. It’s more than worth the read.
Goat Cheese Cannelloni with Morels and Truffles
Dampened cheesecloth; a 10-quart pasta pot fitted with a colander, four 6-inch porcelain gratin dishes, a baking sheet.
|6||Ounces||Fresh goat’s milk cheese|
|2||Large||Ultra-fresh eggs, organic or free range, room temperature, lightly beaten|
|2||Lemons||Zested, preferably organic|
|Fine sea salt|
|1½||Ounces||Dried morel mushrooms|
|1||12″ sq.||Fresh pasta sheet (2 ½ ounces)|
|3||Tbsp||Coarse sea salt|
|½||Cup||Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese|
|½||Cup||Truffle, Morel, and Cream sauce (page 192)|
|1||Fresh||Black truffle (1 ounce, cleaned)|
|1.||Place the cheese on a large plate. Cover it with the eggs and lemon zest. Mash with a fork until the mixture has a thick, smooth consistency. Taste for seasoning. (The filling can be prepared up to 4 hours in advance, covered, and refrigerated.)|
|2.||Place the morels in a colander and rinse well under cold running water to rid them of any grit. Transfer them to a heatproof 1-quart measuring cup or bowl. Pour 2 cups of the hottest possible tap water over the mushrooms. Set aside for 20 minutes to plump them up.|
|3.||Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. (180° C)|
|4.||With a slotted spoon, carefully remove the mushrooms from the liquid, leaving behind any grit that may have fallen to the bottom.|
|5.||Place the dampened cheesecloth in a colander set over a large bowl. Carefully spoon the morel soaking liquid into the colander, leaving behind any grit at the bottom of the measuring cup. (The liquid can be used to prepare the Truffle, Morel, and Cream Sauce.)|
|6.||Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Arrange 3 large kitchen towels on the counter, for draining the pasta.|
|7.||Cut the sheet of pasta into sixteen 3-inch squares.|
|8.||Fill the pasta pot with 8 quarts of water and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the coarse salt. Drop in as many squares of pasta as will comfortably float in the water. Cook for about 30 seconds, removing the squares with a slotted spoon while still very al dente. Transfer them to the ice water. Once all the squares are cooked, swish them around in the ice water, then transfer them with a slotted spoon to the kitchen towels, arranging them in a single layer.|
|9.||Place the grating dishes side by side on a baking dish.|
|10.||Lift a square of pasta off the towel and turn it over. (This helps ensure that the pasta does not stick to the towel as the cannelloni are prepared. With a small spoon, spread about 2 teaspoons of the filling evenly along the bottom third of the square. Do not fill all the way to the edges, or the filling may leak. Carefully roll the pasta – jelly-roll fashion – into a cylinder and place it in a gratin dish, seam side down. Prepare the remaining cannelloni, arranging 4 rolled cannelloni side by side in each gratin dish. Sprinkle with the cheese.|
|11.||Cover each gratin dish securely with foil, to prevent the pasta from drying out as it cooks. Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook until the cannelloni are bubbling, about 20 minutes.|
|12.||While the pasta cooks, prepare the truffle. With a vegetable peeler, peel the truffle. Mince the truffle peelings for another se. Cur the truffle into thick slices, then into matchsticks.|
|13.||Remove from the oven, then remove the foil, and garnish each serving with the morels and several tablespoons of the sauce. Garnish with truffle matchsticks. Serve.|
Note: To infuse the eggs with truffle aroma and flavor, store a whole fresh truffle and the eggs (in their shells) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 2 days and up to 1 week.
Truffle, Morel, and Cream Sauce
Equipment: A fine-mesh sieve.
|1||Cup||Morel soaking liquid|
|1.||In a large saucepan, reduce the mushroom liquid, uncovered, over high heat by half, about 10 minutes.|
|2.||Add the truffle juice and cream to the saucepan. Reduce, uncovered, over high heat by half, about 15 minutes.|
|3.||Pour through the sieve into a bowl. (Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.) Reheat at serving time.|