Thursday, January 3, 2008

Tasting of Potatoes with Black Truffle

I hope you all are enjoying the first few days of the new year. I'm having a really nice and easy week, so it was a pleasure to be able to make this dish now that it's really cold and windy outside. Let me also say that I don't think you understand how tempting it is to just post the final photo of this dish, and then the photo of aftermath of what happened when I served it. Man, it's killing me. But I won't do it. I'll just be a culinary tease and make you wait.

Let's start with the mushroom stock. You may recall from my Pot Au Duh post that I already had mushroom stock on hand. I made and froze it a few weeks ago so it'd be ready to go for this dish, and I'd have some extra stock in which to preserve a few black truffles.

I started by grinding up a pound of button mushrooms and some carrot, leek and onion with my food processor. I heated some canola oil in a stockpot, then added the ground vegetables and some curry powder to the pot. Oh, the aroma!

I then added a fresh bay leaf and fresh thyme, as well as 2 quarts of water and simmered it for just under an hour. My kitchen smelled fantastic:

I strained the stock, reserving the vegetables:

I then filled another stockpot with the reserved vegetables, more water and did the same thing again. I then combined both pots of stock (about 12-14 cups), brought it to a boil, then reduced it until I had 4 cups of stock:

This is one of those things that I always want to remember to tell people who write to me asking "what are some of the most important tools you need to do these dishes" -- YOU NEED MANY STOCKPOTS. Well, maybe not MANY, but more than one. I have two 24-quart stockpots, two 16-quart pots and two 8-quart pots, and a nice little mudroom off the kitchen with a rack of shelves on which I can store them. When making these dishes, there's always straining and reducing and straining again followed by more straining and reducing, and it helps to have multiple pots and strainers. Bravo to whoever invented TJ Maxx -- it's the best place to find great cookware at deep, deep discount. Almost all my All-Clad came from there, otherwise I'd have to prostitute myself to buy a frying pan and we wouldn't want THAT now, would we? And, how the hell did I get from writing about mushroom stock to talking about being a hooker for cookware?

Okay, so the mushroom stock was done a few weeks ago. And, I am not a prostitute. Let's be clear about that. I thawed a cup of the stock for this dish and got the other ingredients ready, so let's finally dive into the Tasting of Potatoes with Black Truffle. Once you read this, you're not going to want to make potatoes any other way, I swear.

I placed four Yukon Gold potatoes in a pot:

I covered them with water, brought it all to a boil, and let it boil for about 30 minutes until the potatoes were tender. I drained them and put the pot back on the stovetop over a medium flame to steam out any remaining moisture in the pot.

Now, while the potatoes were cooking I made the mushroom ragout. I cut (but did not peel) an assortment of red and white fingerling potatoes into pieces that were the same size, so they'd cook evenly:

I've never peeled fingerlings because that would be an exercise in stupidity, don't you think? I'd probably peel the skin off my fingers instead. Ack. I was happy to see that The French Laundry Cookbook instructions said I did't have to peel them. I wouldn't have done it anyhow, so there. I put the 3-4 cups of sliced potatoes in a strainer and rinsed them under cold, cold water for about a minute. I put them in a pot with a little bit of salt, and enough water to cover them (plus two more inches). I brought the water to a boil and cooked them for 2 minutes. I drained them in a strainer, rinsed them again with cold water, and set them aside.

During this time, I'd also put the mushroom stock with some truffle juice and vinegar into a pot and reduced it for about 5 minutes. Again, with the great smellage:

I whisked in 6 tablespoons of butter, one at a time, and added the cooked potato slices and simmered it all until the liquid became a thicker sauce consistency.

I added a few tablespoons of brunoise (which I make in large batches and keep in the freezer), as well as some finely chopped black truffles:

I seasoned with a little bit of salt and some pepper until I was satisfied with how it tasted, then kept it warm over very low heat while I finshed the rest of the dish. It's at about this time that those Yukon Golds were finished boiling. So, as you recall, I got me some hot taters I now have to peel without giving myself third-degree burns. I am happy to say that I was able to do it with only 3 swear words and one dropped potato (on the counter, not the floor, whew).

I pushed them through the tamis and put the purée in the now-dried out pot. I stirred in some salt, then alternated stirring in ten tablespoons of butter and a cup of heavy cream -- a little bit of each at a time -- stirring like a crazy madwoman the whole time while the pan was on medium heat. Wanna see how gorgeous it looks? You know you do.

I stirred a little bit of white truffle oil into the mushroom ragout just before plating. And, I didn't do individual platings of this. I did it family style and walked the plate next door for my friend and her daughter to try. As we tucked in with our forks, our eyes grew wide, then closed as we chewed and savored each bite. I knew I had to share it with another friend who lives in the other house next to mine, so the three of us, forks in hand, walked the platter over to our other friend's living room, grabbed some forks from her kitchen on the way there, and a whole gaggle of us sat around and barely spoke to one another as we PUMMELED this dish. Really, after that first bite, there were no words that needed to be spoken. There was no time for talking. There were potatoes to be eaten, and talking might mean less time for the forking and the chewing. Witness:

Um, yeah. Estimated time lapse: 6 minutes (including time walking from one house to another)

If you're playing along with The French Laundry Cookbook (and from the email I'm getting, it sounds like Santa had quite a few of them on his sleigh this year), you'll note I did not make the potato-truffle chips that were also supposed to be part of this dish. You'll recall I made them before, and they didn't really turn out right. So, I didn't want to waste the truffle on them until I could figure out how to do it correctly. That's a project for another time.

But all that aside, wow. Really, just wow. This dish was not just a certified French Laundry at Home PlateLicker™, I'd say it also rates as a Thomas Keller FaceKisser™. Gentlemen, do you have a lady you'd like to impress with your mad cooking skillz? Whip up this dish, and I'm pretty sure you'll get lucky. Girls, need some new earrings? Make these potatoes and I foresee some bling in your future.

The potato purée is out of this world. I mean, with that much butter and cream it had to be good, but this good? Yukon Gold are my favorite potatoes to make mashies with, and this was just delicious. Better than delicious. Unequalled among the legions of potatoes I've eaten in my lifetime. The potato-mushroom ragout was outstanding, too, both in terms of texture contrast and taste. I was kind of bummed I hadn't set any aside to use in an omelet the next morning. This whole dish was outstanding; truly outstanding.

If you're looking for something easy to make for a special dinner (or if you're really feeling indulgent), do either or both of the components of this dish. You won't be sorry. And, you might even be inspired to write a certain letter afterward (Dear Penthouse Forum, I never thought this would happen to me! I was making the potato puree from The French Laundry Cookbook when... bow-chicka-bow-wow).

Up Next: Salmon "Chops" with Celery and Black Truffles

Potatoes and mushrooms from Whole Foods
Truffle and truffle juice from D'Artagnan
365 organic butter
Organic Valley heavy cream

Music to Cook By: Ugh, this is soooo embarrassing, but it was the soundtrack from the movie "P.S. I Love You". Even though it was one of the worst movies I've ever seen, the music was fantastic, and was the only reason I could tolerate sitting through that dreck. Generally, I can't stand Celtic or Irish music or bands (well, except U2, but they're not really doin' Irish music, now are they?), but for some reason, this soundtrack stuck with me, so I bought it. The only song I skip completely and will likely delete is by James Blunt because his voice bugs me to no end. However, The Pogues have a great tune on there, "Love You 'Til The End," that I really like. So, buy the soundtrack if you want something new and fun, but avoid the movie at all costs, even when it's on TBS or the CW at 2 a.m. four years from now and you have the worst case of insomnia. Seriously, read a book or something. Jeesh.

Read my previous post: French Laundry at Home - A Year in Review


Anonymous said...

See, honey, this is why I read your blog. I'm impressed with what you do with the food (though I'd never even come close to trying it myself!) but I truly tune in for the referenes to street-walking and porno flicks!

mdmnm said...

Starting the New Year by continuing in your inimitable style-great post!

Anonymous said...

doG hates me. How do it know this? I am not your neighbor and my laptop is swimming in drool. Man, life is soooo unfair.

Anonymous said...

Hooking for Cooking....sounds like something Sandra Lee would attempt.

Were these truffles part of the whole Dean and Deluca Truffle Fiasco of Aught Seven?

And I'm really sad to hear that "PS I Love You" sucked monkey balls. I thought the book was pretty good.

Mary Coleman said...

Hmmm. I've been considering renovating the master bedroom. Think I'll serve these potatoes while we discuss same.
Thanks for the means to an end!

pdxblogmommy said...

I am officially placing my order for this dish.

I'm serious...there or here, I don't care. I'll buy the groceries. But I MUST have this. And you must cook it because Lord only knows when I'll get to spend the time to even boil those taters...

And what's wrong with Celtic music? It's not all Riverdance, Irish tenors, and "Celtic Women" ya know...

michael, claudia and sierra said...

caaroooooooool, my new years eve d'artagnan truffle was a duuuuuuuuuuud!!! tasted/smelled like nothingness. such a bummer. BUT they were very nice and credited my acct...

but the foie? oh the foie...

Tara the Foodie said...

Potatoes. Mushrooms. Truffles. Cream. DUH!!! Of course it was good! I just may have to make this one sometime. I have zero french cooking experience - for some reason I never gravitate in that direction when I cook. I'm always somewhere in the southwest it seems. But those ingredients sound amazing. I love the image of you walking to the different neighbor's houses, that was hilarious to me.

Oh and are you SURE P.S. I Love You sucked? Even for a die-hard chick-flicker like me? I'm so depressed. What about Atonement? Have you seen that one yet?

Katy said...

hilarious! i think my nyc apartment definitely does not contain enough stock pots for this recipe!

Charlotte said...

I like the visual in my head of the potato/mushroom/truffle parade -- I imagine clouds of deliciousness like in the old Warner Brothers cartoons where the food is alway dancing ... the FLaH parade through the neighborhood, more and more neighbors following along, drooling big Goofy-dog drools, forks at the ready ...

Anonymous said...

Again - not surprised that people have had trouble finding good truffles. See my earlier comment about the truffle industry. It is very difficult to find good truffles, even in truffle producing areas of France or Italy. Unless you know someone, or have your own source supply - you are as likely to be ripped off buying truffles as you are buying a Rolex on the street. The truffles you see sitting in rice at D&D or Wegmans may be weeks, or I suspect months, old. You will get a truffle, but it will not be fresh, and truffles need to be very fresh to be good. Buying over the net is even trickier. Most truffle oil is artificially flavored. There is almost no oversight of this industry, and even people who are reputable have a hard time knowing what they are selling on. Most Americans have only a vague idea of what a truffle tastes like, and sothese dubious practices are more prevalent than ever, with the new interest in all things "foodie". If you imagine that the French and Italians are sending their best product to be sold to Americans, I have a real-estate proposition for you involving several bridges in New York State. Lots of stale, or Chinese truffles are treated with this fake truffle aroma and sold on as 'Perigord'. Rather than wasting money on poor truffles, save it and go to Bra or San Miniato for the big truffle festivals in November. Better one taste of real, fresh truffle than many meals made with second rate product. Even the best truffle is never worth the money IMHO (disclaimer: very few of my opinions are, in fact, humble). They are amazing, but so are morels, their close relative. American morels are even better than the European ones, and more varied, between the Michigan ones, the mid-Atlantic ones that grow under poplar (I had a beautiful blonde, must have been 5", in my yard in Suburban Washington/Virginia last year), and the Oregon ones that grow in conifer woods (you never find a conifer morel on the east coast). We can't gather them at Black Oak Holler Farm (West West Virginia) because the turkeys get them first, but I am determined to try a morel-fed turkey this spring. Love this blog. Nic Heckett

Anna Banana said...

Maybe it's because I'm old, but I can't figure out how to search your 81 blogs from 2007 to see if you've already made something I'd like to make from FL. Do I really have to start at the beginning of your blog and annotate my book with dates you blogged about the recipes? Actually, now that sounds like a fun thing to do! Never mind.

Anonymous said...

I also saw "P.S. I love you" and boy did it bite. I am a DIE HARD chick flick fan too; i'll watch ANYTHING that even hints at romance or charming wit and this was just aweful. Two decent scenes in the whole film for a grand total of about 45 seconds of watchable stuff. Just horrid. I knew I loved your blog, who knew I loved your taste in movies too :)

Anonymous said...

I'm sure this is a dumb question, but why didn't you peel the Yukon Golds before boiling them? Would they break down too much without the skin?

Carol Blymire said...

Y'all, carrying that plate of potato loveliness around the neighborhood was like that scene in "Snow White" (I actually just typed Snot White - ha!) when she's "aaa-aaa-aaaaahhh"-ing as the birds and little woodland creatures are flocking to her.

Penguinlady, it's important to keep the skins on because that helps keep the heat in (thus, cooking them faster) and holds them together and doesn't allow the water to become gluey and starchy.

And, there was only one redeeming thing about the movie "P.S. I Love You" and that was the pillows on the sofa in her apartment. Red with brown birds. I thought they were cute. But I didn't need to spend $10 and two hours for that, when I could've just opened the freakin' West Elm catalog sitting on my desk.

Anonymous said...

I DO need some new earbling, thanks for noticing... and I do have a significant other who's hyper-susceptible to mashed potatoes! Thanks Carol! You've solved my naked ear syndrome. I guess I finally have to go out and buy the book now.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I found someone blogging French Laundry...and I thought I had guts. Bowing low to you and thanks! It has been on my coffee table while in grad school and actually moved to the library of cookbooks this week. I will definitely try to the potatoe recipe now. I have no idea where to get real truffles (not just oil) -- so I have to look around Portland Oregon for them. Thanks for the step-by-step! I love foodie blogs!