Tortellini with Mushroom Ragu` and Black Truffle
Styling: Anita Parise
Blog: Anita Parise with Renee Lenzarini
Photography & Video: Anita Parise
Recipe & Inspiration: A Tuscan getaway to Montalcino in the heart of Chianti and the Western Australian black truffle season.
Anita: “See you later Autumn and hello Winter … FINALLY! We’ve been blessed with such mild weather so far this winter, with beautiful sunny days and fresh nights. So much so, my family has been able to relish in some of our favourite winter outings. We’ve enjoyed the Perth Hills and its gorgeous little orchards, sampling and picking our own fruit, lighting the pizza oven at my father-in-law’s house, making pizza and roasting chestnuts! And, above all, comfort food cooking. There is nothing quite like cooking and eating a delicious, hearty, wintery meal to warm the soul.
This time of year also showcases one of the world’s most sought after ingredient … that’s right, truffles! This got Renee and I talking, as Renee recently enjoyed a wonderful meal with her partner at Nobu which was created to celebrate the truffle season – but I will let her tell you about that, as this is where the inspiration for this recipe started …”
Renee: “My inspiration for this month’s recipe begun with a series of photos that my partner Daniele took whilst on a self-guided tour of Chianti, Tuscany. From Montalcino to Arezzo and Monteriggioni, I was rather envious of his culinary snaps as he ate up – quite literally – all that Chianti had to offer. Daniele and his merry group of amici, delighted in piatti such as antipasto della terra, bruschette, tagliolini and tagliata con pecorino, all embellished with grated and or fresh tartufo. Each pasto was also suitably accompanied by a Brunello from Montalcino (Capanna 2011 and Podere Le Ripi 2007 for all you wine connoisseurs).
When here in Perth, my partner continued his truffled quest as a belated birthday treat at Nobu Japanese Restaurant, Crown Casino. We were lucky enough to dine on the first night of the new menu, celebrating the opening of the West Australian black truffle season. We ordered a total of six dishes including yellow tail sashimi, lobster tacos, prawn tempura, Tasmanian ocean trout, beef toban-yaki and field greens. However, the best was yet to come. The dessert of the evening was extremely refined with such delicate flavours and included chocolate, caramel, hazelnuts, sour cherry, truffle cream and the first, fresh, black truffle of the season. Daniele almost rated this the best dish of the night – but the traditionalist in him couldn’t allow a dessert to be voted the most favourite dish. As you can probably infer, we highly recommend this Nobu experience.
Altogether, I’ve relished in this 2017 truffle season so far and thoroughly enjoyed bringing this recipe to our GR fans, pasta ambassadors and food enthusiasts. Read on to discover how you can prepare and enjoy a delicacy in your own home …”
Anita: “The very first truffles were harvested in Australia in 1999 in Tasmania and also in the South West Region of WA. Since then, the truffle business has been booming in Australia, making it more readily available for restaurants and the general public to obtain. Our beautiful South West Region is lucky enough to grow some of the finest truffles in the world; Manjimup WA, has some of the biggest Truffière’s in Australia and if you were blessed to head that way last weekend 23rd – 25th June, we hope you had the opportunity to check out the (7th) annual Truffle Kerfuffle festival held at Fonty’s Pool in Manjimup. It was surely a wonderful weekend of truffle hunting and uncovering amazing food and wine in the heart of Australian truffle country, with featured celebrity chefs, dining experiences and more!
As much as I would have loved to have experienced this event, the closest I could get to Manjimup to sample some of these truffles was closer than I first thought … in fact, just down the road at Mondo’s Butchers. They have some wonderful, fresh, black truffles from The Truffle and Wine Co (who are one of the major sponsors at this year’s Truffle Kerfuffle) in their cabinet. A single small truffle will set you back approximately $30 – $70, depending on the size.
Deciding on the recipe this month was tricky – as neither Renee nor I had actually cooked with fresh truffle – so I put my heart on the line and tried to come up with a recipe that would showcase this month’s hero ingredient. When I think of truffles I immediately think of Italy and France where they are most commonly found and cooked with.
All this talk of truffles, Italy and cooking made me think of when I was 14, and my very first trip to Europe. Here I met relatives for the first time, which I had always heard of but never seen. I came face-to-face with history only read of in books. I experienced the BEST cooking (aside from my Mum’s and Nonna’s) and something that I will never forget … hiking up my first mountain. Well, sort of … I was with my Nonno and cousins and we climbed the local mountain, Pizzo Deta. We spotted the most wonderful sights, and took in all that fresh mountain air. I was being educated along the way of course – about of all the wonderful, wild and edible plants and free roaming animals that inhabited that landscape. Just the plain beauty of it all was a lot for me to take in. As I was not used to the altitude, I didn’t make it to the summit, so Nonno and I sat near a large tree and ate our panini whilst waiting for the others to return. While we were waiting, a small wild boar appeared out of nowhere, snuffing and scuffing about – my nonno’s quick and instinctive reactions was to scare it away – and indeed he did move on. Only recently chatting to another of my cousins Diego – who is extremely knowledgeable about the local countryside – I asked him if there were truffles on that mountain … and it turns out there is! Who knows – that greedy little boar was probably snuffing out some truffle and nonno scared him off … that was the closest I ever got to perhaps discovering a truffle …
So back to present day, I find myself with this beautiful, fresh, little morsel of a truffle, and an assortment of mushrooms, some fresh herbs and I thought – what a wonderful marriage of earthy flavours – I can create a mouthwatering almost mountain-like experience and put it in a dish. Hopefully you will enjoy this rich and flavorsome dish to warm your soul – perhaps it will transport you back to a time you remember of wintery days, just like today.”
Ciao for now and Buon Appetito
Anita, Renee & the GR Team
- 600g of mixed mushrooms, sliced - we used Shimeji, Oyster, Portobello and a 10g pack of dried Porcini mushrooms
- 150ml of water, boiled
- 2 x cloves of garlic, roasted - alternatively fresh garlic is fine but please finely chop this to almost a paste
- 1 x large or 2 x smaller shallots, finely chopped
- 6 x sprigs of thyme (leaves only) - leave a few sprigs to garnish
- 4 x large sage leaves, finely chopped
- A generous splash of good quality SSB wine - if you will not drink it, don’t cook with it!
- 80g of butter
- 2 tablespoons of thickened cream
- Fresh black truffle, shaved
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Salt, pepper and grated cheese to taste
- Soak your Porcini mushrooms in a dish with the boiling water so they are all covered and submerged – this will take approximately 20 – 30 minutes to soften and infuse the water. Set aside. Prepare a large pot of salted water to cook the tortellini – bring to boil with the lid on.
- In the meantime, prepare your ingredients for the ragu`. Chop the garlic, shallots, thyme and sage very finely. Slice all the varieties of mushrooms thickly, approximately 1.5 cm wide strips. For the Shimeji’s, I separated them into individual pieces.
- At this point you can add the tortellini to the boiling water – these need to be on a gentle boil for approximately 13 -15 minutes.
- Next, heat a deep, large frying pan on a moderate heat with a little olive oil and begin to fry off the onion, garlic and herb mixture. Be careful not to burn these – they should be softened and aromatic.
- By this stage the Porcini mushrooms should be soft and the water coloured a beautiful dark amber colour. Remove the mushrooms and reserve the liquid as it will be utilised as a stock.
- Turn the heat up on the pan and add in all your sliced mushrooms – quickly stirring them and coating them - ensuring that they do not stew. As soon as they have some colour and are starting to soften, add in your white wine. Agitate the pan so the mushrooms are coated and let the liquid start to reduce. Add approximately ½ the porcini liquid and let the mushrooms simmer until the liquid has reduced by about half. This should take approximately 4 minutes (if the liquid has evaporated quicker, then spoon in more of the porcini liquid – you want some liquid in the pan so it forms part of the sauce).
- Add in the butter and let it emulsify with the mushroom juices. Next, add in the cream and combine well so it becomes thick and glossy.
- Take your truffle and using a zester, grate in a generous amount – approximately 2 heaped tablespoons into the mushroom mixture and stir well.
- Drain the tortellini well and place directly into the mushroom mixture – ensure all the tortellini are coated with the mushroom ragu`.
- Plate immediately, and adorn with freshly grated pecorino cheese and some shaved truffle for the ultimate experience!
- *Please note: If you do not have a truffle grater, be sure to use a very sharp potato peeler. Grasp hold of the truffle and carefully peel it toward you so that you can better control it.