If you've overdone it at Christmas but you want to have a stunning, easy to prepare luxury meal for New Year's, think truffles, think Rossini...
In Northern Italy Rossini was almost as famed for his cooking, as he was for his operas. Many recipes are attributed to Rossini and he was known for his love of truffles. Over time these recipes have been altered to suit regional Italian tastes and local ingredients. The famous 'Filetti alla Rossini' is a legendary steak and truffle combination that takes no time to prepare, leaving you free to enjoy New Year's Eve.
Remember truffles should only be eaten fresh. Preserved truffles and truffles paste are not worth eating.
Most luxury food stores will have fresh truffles and they can be pricy. If they are not it means you are not getting what you intend. At this time of year you could buy on line because truffles are being harvested fresh during the winter months and can reach you in a few days via courier. Rossini's recipe requires the Black truffle or Tuber melanosporum which costs about dollars 180 for 30mg, which would be enough for three people depending how much you can spend. More is always better.
However, this recipe like many old Italian recipes, is made 'a occhio' which means there are no measurements. Follow your feelings, it's much more fun than staring at a measuring cup...
The Apennine Mountains of Central Italy is the heartland for the Black Truffle, and here this famous Rossini recipe is made thus:
Highest quality steaks (one per person, ideally filet mignon), foie gras, unsalted butter, white wine, black truffle.
Truffles should always be used at room temperature so if it has been refrigerated make sure it sits for six hours at room temperature, still covered. You will need a fine grater if you are going to economize, or you can slice the truffle thinly with a knife or truffle slicer -- when you are ready to eat it.
Do not refrigerate the steaks, as the domestic refrigerator has much too much humidity. Never keep good meat inside it. The steaks and all other ingredients must be at room temperature before you use them.
• Heat the plates.
• Mix the soft butter and foie gras together into a rich paste. Thickly coat the steaks with this mixture (use your hands to put on very thickly).
• Heat a frying pan to medium high and put the steaks in.
• Don't over cook the meat, obviously.
• After you have turned the steaks and they are close to done add about half a cup of wine and let it reduce.
• Take the pan off the heat. Put the steaks on a warm plate.
• Grate your truffle onto the steaks.
• Quickly pour the still warm, but not boiling juices from the pan on top to amalgamate the flavours.
• Enjoy with a salad and wine.
When you eat this dish you will understand why Rossini was inspired to write such sumptuous music. Up until the early twentieth century truffles were held to be an aphrodisiac or the food of witches. They were also perceived to give power or courage. Pope Gregory IV ate truffles especially to give himself strength and protection before his battles during the 800s. Madame Pompadour ate a diet of truffles to stimulate her amorousness.
Whatever the case, the fascinating taste and eating experience truffles offer, perfectly composed by Rossini with these other luxury ingredients, will have you start the New Year with your heart singing.