I first became enchanted with the idea of making an egg dish with truffles after I recently read about it in Georgeanne Brennan’s charming memoir A Pig in Provence, about her days in Provence and the infamous truffles. She had been in Provence barely a year when a neighbor introduced her to the seasonal gathering of truffles. Traditionally most truffle hunters used cochons (pigs), but today dogs are preferred. Enter an old truffle hunter, Monsieur Capretti, who relays the story of how his grandfather took him truffle hunting as a young boy and shared his he secret of how to look for truffles, as he said, “With no pig, no dog, no nothing, just your wits.”
Monsieur Capretti’s grandfather told the boy that if he could find truffles, he could sell them and would always have money. It would be his inheritance he said, but he must work for it. His grandfather’s method was to find the circles around the base of the oak trees, called the brûlé, where all of the grass is dead. Then break off a branch of an Aleppo pine from the forest and tear all but the top leaves off to make a switch. His grandfather demonstrated by brushing the ground with the tip of the brush and pointed out the truffle fly, who is drawn to the perfume from the truffles and lays its eggs there, thus providing the clue that the truffles lay beneath the ground. Now the hunter could employ his own wit and skills to find the truffle without the assistance of the traditional pig or dog. His grandfather then used a tool, much like a screwdriver, pushed it gently into the ground and pulled out a hard, lumpy truffle. Voila, he had uncovered a large truffle, about the size of a grapefruit.
Monsieur Capretti goes on to share his recipe for Oeufs Broûllé , or eggs with truffles, with Georgeanne. He explains that he takes eggs from his chickens, “good eggs” he calls them, and stores them along with the truffle together in a jar. His belief is that the smell of the truffles will go into the eggs.
In two or three days, Monsieur Capretti removes the eggs and truffle from the jar. He then breaks the eggs into a bowl, cleans the truffles and grates it into the eggs. The egg mixture is left to stand for a few minutes, then sea salt is added, and then the eggs and truffles are cooked in butter to make his “Oeufs Broûllé."
Since then we’ve been anxious to try eggs with truffles, but there was little to no chance we were going to find a fresh truffle in south Florida, at least not in our town. Then low and behold a fresh truffle lands in our laps. Our friends Larry and Beverly of Big Dude’s Eclectic Ramblings brought us a fresh white truffle as a gift when they came down for lunch a couple of weeks ago.
Quite by chance I stumbled upon a Martha Stewart video on the internet for a truffle omelet with a port and sour cream filling. I combined Monsieur Capretti’s recipe with Martha’s and added fine fresh herbs to the egg mixture for color and extra punch along with a bit of cream and hot sauce to enrich the flavor of the omelet. In Martha’s video (you’ll find a link to the video if you take your mouse and hover over her name under the title of the recipe that serves 5-6) her guest Chef gives some good tips about using fresh truffles. Not one to waste ingredients in his restaurant, he freezes any truffles he has left over. (I didn’t know fresh truffles could be frozen.) He also chops his truffles and all along I thought I had to have a fancy truffle slicer. He also emphasized that you do not want to overcook truffles. He barely heats his truffle in butter.
We had never eaten a fresh truffle and thought that they had a rich earthy flavor, weren’t as strong as truffle butter, and were indeed a real treat. Did the smell of the truffles go into the eggs while they sat with them for a couple of days? We’re not so sure about that, but it certainly didn’t hurt anything and it makes a good story.
Don’t fret if your omelet doesn’t come together properly. The way we look at it is if the omelet fails for whatever reason, there’s no shame in turning it into soft scrambled eggs and spoon the filling over the top as a sauce. Actually that’s what we planned to do if we encountered problems. Toasted slices of a French baguette spread with good butter, a couple of slices of fresh tomatoes, and spring mix fresh greens tossed in My Carolina Kitchen’s house French vinaigrette, recipe here, make the perfect accompaniment to the truffle omelet for a lovely Sunday lunch.
I wish to thank Larry and Beverly for the fresh truffle. It was a very special treat and this one is for you.
Truffle Omelet with Fine Fresh Herbs and a Pour Sour Cream Filling
Adapted from A Pig in Provence, by Georgeanne Brennan and a Martha Stewart video – serves 2 – advance preparation required
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 truffle (about 1 ounce), coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon port wine or Madeira
5 large eggs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon each fine fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, thyme leaves, and chives
1 tablespoon cream or water
Dash of hot sauce such as Tabasco
Few chives for garnish
Slices of toasted French baguette, buttered for serving
Two or three days before you prepare the recipe, place the eggs in a jar along with the truffle and store in the refrigerator in order for the smell of the truffle to go into the eggs.
For the filling, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add chopped truffle, sour cream and port. Stir to combine. Set aside and keep warm.
For the omelet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a non-stick sauté pan (we used an 8” pan) over low heat. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs together with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper, the fine fresh herbs, cream and hot sauce. When the sauté pan is well heated, pour in eggs. As the omelet cooks, tip skillet to incorporate some of the runny parts with more cooked parts until there are some curds swimming in the eggs.
Continue cooking, making sure eggs cover the entire surface of the skillet, using a spatula to push together any holes that may have formed.
Pour truffle mixture over the center of the omelet. Run spatula along right side of omelet to loosen eggs from skillet. Place spatula under right side of eggs, making sure that the spatula is well underneath the eggs to offer maximum support, and lift right side over the filling in one fluid motion. Folded omelet should look like a half moon.
Lightly press down on omelet with the spatula to seal omelet together. Do not press hard. You do not want to flatten the cures. Lift up skillet with one hand, and hold a plate with your other hand. Tilt skillet and let the curved edge of the omelet slide onto the plate. Cut in half and serve immediately with toasted slices of a buttered French baguette.