21 Mar 2014 Alba truffle recipes: Tajarin, a type of Italian truffle pasta
Although food blogs are born daily, some manage to differentiate themselves from others due to a particular characteristic, which often depends on the author’s personality or a particular passion that gives the project a very unique and instantly recognizable style.
This is the case for Alessandra Giovanile, fond of history and art that found in the passion for cooking and for writing a way of making these interests real and tangible.
Her blog “Ricette di Cultura” has current as well as quick recipes, Italian traditional ones and those by now forgotten that become an opportunity to tell the story of the food and of those who used to eat it with particular attention to the gastronomic culture of Turin.
Here is her recipe made made just for us of Ville in Italia with a typical prestigious Piedmontese product: truffles.
A truffle is a tuber that grows close to tree roots while developing itself as the parasite of the plant itself. Depending on the tree beside which it grows, the color and aromas of the truffle itself will change.
Known since ancient times, it was present in the meals of the Sumers who would use it combined with barley and legumes and subsequently by Greeks, Latins and Arabs.
Pliny the Elder gave it a naturalist definition: “among those things that grow but cannot be sowed” and it is precisely this characteristic of randomness that determined the fortune and mystery linked to the strange and unpredictable tuber.
Its history is marked by dark periods where there were doubts on whether it was of vegetable or animal in nature. Since it was considered a ground outgrowth with a life of its own, during the Middle Ages it was believed to be food suitable only for witches and devils.
In imitation of French cuisine, its use became particularly important since the 17th century in Piedmont. The more widespread black truffle was used for stuffings while the more refined white one was used in profusion in sauces and condiments.
As known today, Alba’s white truffle obtained its fortune recently with the hotelier and restaurateur from Alba, Giacomo Morra.
The idea arose in 1949. To revive the economy after the Second World War, Giacomo Morra aimed towards the truffle to make it become a recognized product and symbol of an event that would attract worldwide attention on the Langhe.
He gave as a gift the best harvest of that year to the most popular actress of that time, Rita Hayworth. From the same place every year, the best truffles were given to notable figures including Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Sofia Loren, Hitchcock, Pavarotti and many others. They had the honour of spreading the myth of Alba and of its white truffle worldwide.
The truffle is synonymous with Alba for me as well even if the same precious tuber is harvested in different areas of Piedmont. Every year we have the excuse of making that one hour drive from Turin to the International Truffle Fair to sniff the fragrant air, taste the excellent wines of the territory that blend well with the truffles and to taste delicious traditional dishes flavoured with the precious tuber.
Among these dishes, the tajarins stand out. They are the traditional Piedmontese tagliolini, egg pasta already widespread in the 15th century. They are thin, about 2-3 mm, and are traditionally served with “comodino”, a sauce prepared with chicken livers and other chicken giblets or simply with melted butter and a fragrant truffle, which is my favourite.
(for 4 servings)
400 g of wheat flour
3 eggs (whole)
2 egg yolks
1 pinch of salt
100 g of butter
1 ladle of bouillon
1 small truffle
Place the flour on a pastry board and make a well in the center.
Crack the whole eggs and egg yolks into it with a pinch of salt and begin to knead, first with a fork and then with your hands while slowly incorporating all the flour. The dough should be quite firm, therefore, if needed, add a little more flour.
Knead the dough on the board until it is smooth and elastic.
Cover it with a clean damp cloth and let it rest for an hour or two.
Take the dough and roll it out thinly with a rolling pin or pasta machine.
Sprinkle your dough with semolina or corn flour and roll it up on itself.
Cut the tajarin very thin with a sharp knife and gradually unroll them and place them in small piles.
Gently clean the truffle with the help of a soft-bristled brush and a cloth.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet and dilute it with a little bouillon.
Drain the tajarins and place them in the skillet in order to season them with the butter.
Grate white truffle on top and serve.