A Truffle is No Trifle!

Forty years ago, when I graduated from high school, truffles to me were fancy chocolates from posh downtown boutiques.

This year, I attended my 40th high school reunion outside of Philadelphia. Truffles are still chocolates (no longer solely for the posh) and, of course, are named for the wonderful fungus I eventually discovered and over the years have come to love. I much prefer these to the chocolate variety.

For the reunion weekend, a small group of us stayed with our friends Linda and Chuck . En route to their house, I picked up a few picnic ingredients at their local grocery store. Of course a picnic called for cheese.

While perusing a beautiful and extensive cheese counter, I saw a domed lid with three black truffles. You can only imagine my excitement. I called the manager right over to discuss how I would need to pack these gems for travel to Tucson.

Imagine my dismay when she told me they were fake plastic display pieces... I was crestfallen. Then, imagine my joy when she told me they were getting a fresh shipment of Burgundy summer truffles on Monday. Count me in! She told me she would pack one and have it ready to pick up on Monday.

True to her word, the truffle was there, well-wrapped, and, within minutes, it was mine. (Spoiler alert/sticker shock warning: these funghi run about $80/ounce.)

Summer truffles are mild, and should only be served raw. I didn't want to use it on plain pasta or risotto. Been there, done that, loved it. I wanted to try something new.  Some research brought me to James Martin's "Forest Chicken" recipe, and from his idea, today's recipe was born.

The really good news for you? This recipe is amazing with or without the truffle! If you don't have one, serve it with a sprinkling of extra fresh tarragon or parsley. You will be delighted either way!

~ David

Poulet ForĂȘt aux Truffes
Inspired by James Martin

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, divided
4 large chicken thighs, with skin and bone
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces salt pork
6 ounces shallots
8 ounces wild mushrooms (I used chanterelles and cremini)
1/4 cup madeira
1 cup prepared chicken demiglace
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves
1 small summer truffle - about 1/2 ounce

Prep work:
-    Trim the thighs of excess fat and skin.
-    Remove the rind from the salt pork, and cut into 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch by 1-inch batons/lardons.
-    Peel the shallots, keeping the root end intact; cut them in half lengthwise, or in quarters, if very large.
-    Clean the mushrooms with a mushroom brush. Quarter the cremini. Leave the chanterelles whole, unless very large, in which case cut them into quarters, as well.
-    Prepare the chicken demiglace, and set aside, keeping warm.

Add 2 tablespoons oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons butter to a large frying pan over medium-high heat.

Season the trimmed chicken pieces very well with salt and pepper. Add to the pan, skin side down, and fry until deep-golden brown; turn and repeat on the non-skin side.

Heat a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat, then add 1 tablespoon oil. Fry the salt pork lardons until they have rendered their fat and are crisp, then add the shallots and cook until golden.

Transfer the chicken from the frying pan to the Dutch oven with the lardons and shallots, and continue cooking over medium heat. Pour off most of the drippings from the frying pan, return it to the heat, and add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter. Fry the mushrooms for about 3 minutes. Add the Madeira and flambé; add the demiglace, cream, and tarragon, and mix well. Cook until it begins to bubble and form a sauce.

Pour the mushroom sauce over the chicken and simmer, partially covered, for 20-25 minutes.

To serve, pile the chicken in a serving bowl, cover in sauce and garnish with truffle shavings. If you aren't using the truffle, sprinkle with additional tarragon or parsley.

Serves 4.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,