Mushrooms are truly a gift from anteure. These meaty, musky, and delectable little fungi are one of the tastiests things that grow. And among the mushroom popululation, the truffle is king.
Truffles are a somewhat more rare group of mushrooms. They are a fungus of tree roots, mainly beech, oak, poplar, brich, hazel, pine and hornbeam trees. They can be found all over Europe, and N. America.They will usually be found between the leaf, and topsoil detrius, and the soil itself, attached to the tree roots. The name truffle comes from the Latin word tuber, meaning ‘lump’, or ‘swelling’. It is not uncommon for some people to use trained swine, and dogs to locate truffles underground. Truffles can be found all year long.
Truffles are highly prized for their earthy, musky flavor. Prices can range between $300.00 to over $2000.00 per pound. Of the many species of truffles, two are the most commericially valuable. The White Truffle, and it’s subspecies, is the most valuable. It has a plae-colord flesh, is very pungent, meaty-tasting, and aromatic. These are highly prized in high-end gourmet cooking. Black Truffles are a bit more widespread, and less pungent and aromatic. There are several other subspiecies that are edible, but they are just local variations of the other two main types.
Truffles are usually used raw, sliced thin and served over meats, eggs, and vegetables. Since truffles are very strong-flavored, a little goes a long way. In order to make better economic use, and control the flavor more, sometimes tryuffle oil is used instead of the truffle itself. Sadly (and much to the shock of many a would-be gourmet), truffle oil contains no truffles at all. That’s right, your prized bottle of white truffle oil has never been near any species of truffle. Truffle oil is simply olive oil flavored with the chemical 2,4-dithiapentane, an acid-catalyzed compound of methyl mercaptan and formaldehyde.These are the organic chemicals in truffles that are thought to give them their characteristic tastes and aromas. Truffle salts, a seasoning made from high-grade salt and dried truffles, are also used. Truffle salts are made from both white, and black truffles, and there are many different blends available. They absolutely impart the flavors, aromas and character of truffles to whatever they are added to.
It stands to reason that sooner or later, someone would figure out how to pair one of the worlds greatest spices with the worlds most outstanding snack….popcorn. On it’s own, popcorn is a welcome addition to any gathering. It’s wonderful characteristic aroma, taste, and lack or harmful things have made it one of the most beloved culinary delights in history. Popcorn is also very friendly to most other flavorings such as Lousianna Hot Sauce, cheeses, caramel, peanuts, corn syrup, maple syrup, or just plain sugar and salt (as in Kettle Corn). Add to this list, the sublime earthy, musky taste and aroma of truffle salt, and this wonderful snack is elevated into a whole new world. The taste and smell is indescribable, with some top notes of exotic musk, the smells of wet leaves, fresh-cut grass, and the rich roundness of ozone, like a spring rain, and much more……. It is a complete sensory experience.
Adding truffle salt to popcorn is very easy. It works best with oil-popped popcorn (so the salt has something to stick to), but it can be used with buttered, air-popped, or microwave popcorn as well. Simply pop 1/3 cup of popcorn, drizzle with 2 Tbsp of butter or margarine, and sprinkle it with 1/2 teaspoon of truffle salt (Be careful. Remember…a little goes a long way….).
Truffle salt may not be the cheapest spice ( average price is probaly around $28.00 for a 3.5 oz. shaker jar), but adding it’s full, rich, dark roundness to you popcorn is pure decadent luxury at its best….worth every penny, and then some. Everyone should try it once.