Truffle oil gets a lot of bad rap. Chefs hate it for its synthetic flavor, replicating none of the complexity that makes real truffles so special. Anthony Bourdain had something colorful to say about it; Martha Stewart downright calls it “a hideous thing.” Some find truffle oil to be “premium mediocre”, abused by lazy cooks as a shortcut to fancier-tasting food.
But fresh truffles are ridiculously expensive, difficult to acquire, and a hassle to store. If you’re a home cook who’s a sucker for that delicious earthy aroma, truffle oil is your best bet.
Truffle oil is available in most grocery stores. You'll find two kinds: White truffle oil has a delicate fragrance, while black truffle oil has a stronger, earthier musk. It generally follows that the more expensive the truffle oil, the better. Buy it in small quantities.
Now that you have truffle oil in your pantry, remember:
- Don’t cook with it. Truffle oil is a finishing oil, and should be drizzled in small amounts right before serving. Heat will burn off all that aroma you paid for!
- Less is more. Every time you use too much truffle oil, a truffle oil hater is born. Too much of it can quickly overwhelm a dish. Use truffle oil with a light hand: start with a teaspoon, taste, then add more if needed. (You probably won't.)
What pairs well with truffle oil? Everything in this pasta: bacon, mushrooms, cheese, and lots of cream.
- 160g uncooked linguini pasta
- 2 tbsp (25g) unsalted butter
- ½ cup (85g) chopped picnic bacon
- 20g diced red onion
- 1 cup (70g) diced shiitake mushrooms
- ¼ cup (25g) grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
- ½ cup (130g) whipping cream
- 2-3 tsp (about 12g) black truffle oil
- ⅛ cup (3g) parsley
Cook pasta: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add linguine pasta and cook to package directions, or until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving a bit of pasta water, and set aside.
Cook bacon and mushrooms: Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add chopped bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until meat is cooked through and some of the fat has rendered out, about 3 minutes. Add red onions and shiitake mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are soft and tender.
Make sauce: Pour whipping cream into the pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add half of the Parmigiano Reggiano, stirring to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Be cautious with the amount of salt you season, as bacon is naturally salty. Remove pan from heat and add truffle oil.
Toss pasta: Add cooked linguine, a little pasta water, and toss until sauce looks glossy. Slowly add in the rest of the cheese and continue tossing, adding a little more pasta water at a time if it looks dry. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately.