This recipe comes from the The Black Swan at Oldstead, a fine, family-owned, Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms an hour's drive from York. The addition of truffles transforms this everyday dish into something a bit special.
The key engine-room ingredient here is top-quality truffle-infused oil, so don't compromise on it. It loses its mojo very quickly, so to avoid spoiling the ship for a ha'porth of tartufo, invest in a fresh bottle. Shun 'Light' and go for 'Intenso'.
If you intend to use the real McCoy, invest in a truffle-shaver to slice it into paper-thin slices, and set them aside to scatter on top of the finished dish. The fallout from that process should be mixed into the part-cooked pasta, but don't leave out the truffle oil.
Cream varies in thickness, pasta in water-absorbency, ovens in heat-efficiency and cooks in adrenalin. My first attempt suffered by being too long on flour and pasta, too short on salt and spending too long in the oven. These were all valuable lessons, and my italicised asides, appended below to the Black Swan recipe as it was given to me, may be of help to other enthusiastic amateurs like me.
Serves four generous main-course portions (on your hips be it!) or six to eight starter scoops.
- 500ml double cream
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- Half a shallot, finely diced
- 250ml white wine
- 50ml white wine vinegar
- Butter to cook with (about 30g)
- Sprig of thyme
- Juice of half a lemon
- Truffle oil - a little splash
- 100g grated Parmesan
- 100g grated cheddar
- Salt and pepper (I used truffle-scented salt, and plenty of it)
- Enough macaroni to bind the cream (about 300g, dry weight)
Home cook's note: preheat the oven. 190°C/365°F/Gas 5 is about right.
Blanch the pasta for 4-5 minutes
Sweat the shallot with butter and thyme until translucent
Add the white wine and white wine vinegar and reduce by half
Add cream and allow to reduce by a quarter
Make the flour into a paste with cold water
Add to the cream a tablespoon at a time until a thick sauce consistency is achieved. You may not need it all
Add lemon juice and season at this point
Add the truffle oil
Add both cheeses and the semi-cooked pasta (along with the truffle trimmings if you are using a fresh one)
Put in a ceramic bowl and bake until golden brown (20 minutes in the preheated oven should be enough. If it's sizzling, it's done)
Finish with the truffle shavings, if using and serve.
If baking in advance and reheating from cold, add an extra splash of cream and allow a few extra minutes' cooking time. The dish also freezes well.
This is the dish for rich white wine, try Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay, Pouilly-Fuissé, or a ripe South African chenin-based blend.