Tarajin al Burro e Salvia con Tartufo Nero Pregiato
(Pasta with Butter, Sage, and Black Truffles)
This is a special occasion dish. You can tell, because it’s in Italian. You can also tell because it contains truffles, which are really expensive. But you can also make this dish more every day (and much more economical) by substituting the truffles out for seasonal vegetables like asparagus, peas, or fresh morels. You can also easily make this completely vegetarian by using a vegetable broth or even better yet, a porcini mushroom based sauce, instead of the more traditional beef broth.
This particular pasta hails from the Piedmont region of Italy. Tarajin, pronounced “tie-yah-REEN”, is quite popular in this Northern area. The pasta is essentially a version of tagliatelle or it’s narrower cousin, tagliolini. The exact dimensions vary from cook to cook, but it’s roughly in the neighborhood of about 3 mm wide and 1.5 mm thick. What is consistent, and differentiates this pasta dough from others, is that it is made from flour and egg yolks – not whole eggs and water – with a pinch of salt.
The exact amount of egg yolks can vary due to the varying size of the eggs you use. Get the absolute freshest, finest eggs you can. Work them in a few at a time and then when you start to get near-about 20 egg yolks, add them in one at a time until fully incorporated. Just as a note, this makes a very soft and tender pasta dough. You can also, of course, get this in its dried pasta version.
- 500g organic Tipo “00” flour (50 g reserved)
- 10g salt
- 20-24 egg yolks
- 170g butter (room temperature)
- 12 sage leaves, roughly chopped (plus 3-4 more for garnish)
- 6g fresh ground white pepper
- 15g (approximately 1 Tbs) fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- 30mL (approximately 2 Tbs) Fondo Bruno (meat broth)
- 30-50g (approximately 1-2 ounces) black Périgord truffles
You can adjust the amounts as needed for serving. You can also adjust the amounts of Parmesan cheese (make sure you use the real thing) and meat broth. If you can easily taste the Parmesan cheese and/or the meat broth, you have used too much. They should function as subtle background notes to highlight the truffle experience. After all, this is an extremely expensive ingredient, so you might as well make it the star.
Also, if you are really good at hand rolling pasta, you can handroll the pasta out to approximately 1/16 of an inch thick (approximately 1.5 mm) and approximately 1/8 of an inch (approximately 3 mm) wide. An easy way to measure this is to stack two pennies on top of each other, each penny is approximately 1.5 mm and the thickness of two pennies therefore is roughly 3 mm – 3.4 mm to be precise. So your pasta should be approximately one penny thick and two pennies wide. Individual pasta machine settings vary on their thickness, but as a general guide using the KitchenAid pasta attachment you would roll your sheets out to setting four or five.
If you hand roll your pasta it will be more tender than if you run it through mechanical pasta rollers. However, the art of hand rolling pasta involves stretching the dough as opposed to simply compressing it. If you are not particularly skilled at hand rolling and stretching out pasta dough (I am not), then using a mechanical pasta roller makes things much easier.
On a clean benchtop (or in a stand mixer equipped with the dough hook) place the flour (sans the reserved 50 g) and salt into a pile and create a well at the center. Slowly add the egg yolks and incorporate them fully into the flour. The resulting dough may be a bit on the sticky side. If working on a benchtop, use the reserved flour to knead the dough until it forms a soft ball. If using the stand mixer, slowly incorporate the additional flour until it achieves the same. Cover, and allow the dough to rest for at least 30 minutes up to a day or so ahead. If you do this part ahead of time and refrigerate the dough, just allow it approximately one hour to come back up to room temperature prior to working with it further.
Divide the dough into at least three sections, so you can work with manageable pieces one at a time. Keep the remaining pieces covered so the dough does not dry out. If rolling out by hand, work towards achieving a sheet approximately 1.5 mm in thickness. If using a mechanical device like the KitchenAid attachment, put it on setting four or five and you should have a sheet about 20 inches (about 50 cm) long. Lightly dust the sheets with flour and let them dry out slightly; approximately 15 to 30 minutes. Do not allow them to dry out completely and become brittle or you won’t be able to cut them.
With the short end of the pasta sheet facing you, gently roll the pasta sheet up, moving towards you. You should wind up with a compact tube approximately 3 inches (about 7.5 cm) long. Trim off any ragged edges. With a sharp knife, slice the pasta dough into 1/8 of an inch (about 3 mm) strips. Unfold the pasta noodles and allow them to dry completely, up to about 12 hours. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Heat your serving dishes and a bowl that can accommodate all the pasta at a low temperature in the oven.
In a large pot add 4-6 L (approximately 4-5) quarts of salted water (approximately 3 to 4 tablespoons). Place on high heat and bring to a rolling boil. While the water heats, melt half the butter in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. When the butter stops foaming, reduce the heat to low and add the chopped sage. As the butter lightly browns, allow the sage to infuse its flavor; approximately 20 minutes. Remove from the heat if necessary. After about 20 minutes, strain out the sage. Add the salt and the white pepper. And the Parmesan and the meat stock; adding more of each as needed to taste. Keep the mixture warm.
When the water is boiling, and all the pasta at once. Allow the water to return to a full boil. Cook the pasta until slightly al dente; anywhere between 2 to 5 minutes. Place the pasta in the warmed bowl. Add the sauce. Toss. Add the remaining butter, divided into small pieces. Toss. Divide the pasta amongst the serving dishes and top with thinly sliced truffle. Garnish with sage leaf and serve immediately.