Maybe Black Truffle Sliders seem a bit extravagant. Maybe you’re thinking, where would I ever get my hands on black truffles? After all, wintertime black truffles are rare and you guessed it– expensive. Particularly those from the southwestern region of France known as the Dordogne. They’re the most famous black truffles in all the world and they’re often called the “Diamonds of Périgord”.
But what if one of these beauties just happened to land in your hand someday, or better yet– mine. Wouldn’t we want to know what to do with it?
Yes, we would. So I’ve decided to practice perfecting my truffle repertoire with these Black Truffle Sliders– just in case.
Honestly, there’s nothing quite as intoxicating as fresh black truffles. I’ve had slivers grated onto scrambled eggs in Paris. I’ve sprung for French Black Truffle Agnolotti at Spago (back in the day). I’ve even bought Italian white truffles before. They’re quite delicious, but not quite the splurge as French black truffles. Don’t these previous truffle experiences make it seem plausible that maybe someday a Diamond of Périgord will find its way to my kitchen. Well, maybe.
In the meantime, there are substitutes I can use as practice. Truffle honey, truffle salt, and truffle butter are indulgences I occasionally open my wallet for. I could have made these Black Truffle Sliders with a touch of one of these terrific products. It’s not the same as a whole fresh truffle, but it would certainly add a whiff of something dark and earthy.
Speaking of substitutes, truffle oil seems a logical choice, right? In theory, what’s not to like about truffle oil? It has a mighty heady aroma. Compared to actual truffles it’s practically free. So it seems like an affordable alternative and a nice fancy-pants way of enhancing almost anything (even Black Truffle Sliders). Right?
Wrong. Examine that paragraph and compare it to what we know about truffles and truffle oil. Truffles are rare and difficult to procure. They’re expensive and their price fluctuates greatly due to their uneven availability. In other words, they’re market-driven.
Locations I‑1 Italian Red Wine
Pairs well with Charcuterie, cheese, grilled meats, mushrooms, pasta, pork, sausage
However, truffle oil has a fairly constant price. In fact, lately, it’s begun to trend downward in its price point. How is this possible?
Many great chefs believe that when it comes to truffles more is more. Not so with truffle oil. It has a tipping point and can actually pollute a dish if used with a heavy hand. Again I have to ask why is this? Why can one be used liberally and the other only judiciously??
Well, the key to this conundrum lies with Coca-Cola.
Coke and Diet Coke are supposed to be pretty much the same in taste and experience. But if you’re any kind of cola sipper you understand that they’re really two different creatures. One has a lot of calories and one does not. How is this possible? I think you know the answer. The answer is chemicals. Well, it’s the same thing with truffle oil.
Truffle oil is NOT truffle-steeped oil. Truffle oil is olive oil enhanced with the naturally-occurring chemical dithiapentane. According to the New York Times, Dithiapentane is a chemical recreation of the “aromatic molecules that make the flavor of truffles so heady and evanescent”.
Dithiapentane is the chemical aroma responsible for making your brain think it’s getting ready for big flavor. But that’s where the similarity to truffles ends. Because if you stop and be honest with yourself you have to admit that truffle oil delivers a flavor that is very unlike real truffle flavor. It’s similar-ish, but very shallow.
So, as tempting as it might be. I did not choose truffle oil to practice working with truffles. My Black Truffle Sliders are made with real truffles, real black truffles from the famed truffle village of Savigno in Emilia Romagna. They come in a jar packed in olive oil. They were still quite expensive. But not so expensive that I can’t experiment.
I may never get my hands on a French black truffle. But if I do, I plan to be prepared. GREG