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Recipe Rescue: 5 Rules for Truffles on the Cheap

Great news, gang! White truffles are in season now and because Northern Italy had such a rainy and hot summer, the price of fresh truffles has dropped dramatically. For just $2,000 per pound, you too can make authentic Italian … What? Oh, sticker shock. I get it.

Let’s go at this from a different angle. Truffle fries, truffle mashed potatoes and truffle mac 'n' cheese are the trend in restaurants, right? And for good reason. The flavor is redolent, earthy, yummy, umami. But is your corner trattoria using expensive white truffles to flavor their fries?

No.

They are using truffle salt, maybe a drizzle of truffle oil. For egg and pasta dishes, they may also be using truffle butter—all great ways to impart the flavor of truffle into the dish without spending the big bucks.

And it’s also super easy to do at home following a few basic tips:

1. Don’t savor the flavor.

Truffle anything loses its potency with each passing day, so if you got it, use it. This is especially true with salt. Oils and butters, because of their fat content, have a longer shelf life.

2. Buy the smallest quantity you can.

Sounds counterintuitive, but it’s not. If you buy a huge jar of truffle salt, it will lose its pungency before you use up the salt. Buy small, use it up and buy some more. That way you’re getting the freshest product possible.

3. Never cook with your truffle oil/butter/salt.

Then how do restaurants do it? Truffle infused products are made to "finish" a dish; a drizzle of truffle oil on pasta, just before serving, or a shower of truffle salt on a poached egg, just before tucking in, will give the most oomph to the dish. Cooking breaks down and dissipates the flavor, even with that $2,000-per-pound fresh truffle.

4. Layer the flavors.

Using a few products will greatly enhance the overall truffle flavor. For an outrageous truffle pasta, start with a dried truffle pasta, cook in unsalted water, drain well and finish the dish with a drizzle of truffle oil, a pat of truffle butter, a scattering of truffle salt and shreds of truffle Pecorino cheese.

5. Forget "truffle shavings," "truffle sauce" or "canned fresh truffle." In my experience (I bought my first truffle in 1996), these other "bits" of truffles cost a lot but add very little flavor.

Need help using up your truffle-infused ingredients? Try one of these dishes every day this week.

Saturday: Artichoke Soup with White Truffle Oil

Image via Finding Tasty

Sunday: Cheap and Easy Truffle Mashed Potatoes

Image by Tiffany Madison via Washington Times

Monday: Truffle Bacon Popcorn

Image via Shockingly Delicious

Tuesday: Porcini and Chicken Rigatoni with White Truffle Oil

Image via R.M. Kealy

Wednesday: Roasted Carrot, Parsnip and White Truffle Salad

Image via Beard + Bonnet

Thursday: Luxe Truffled Deviled Eggs

Photo by Kathy Casey Food Studios via epicurious

Friday: Lobster Stuffed Flounder with Truffle Salt

Image via Finding Tasty

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