Ciotola di trifolao

The Truffle Hunter’s Bowl

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    6

    as a rich first course

Appears in

A ciotola is a rustic wooden bowl, and this recipe is remarkable in its understated simplicity. There is one catch, however. You need white truffles for this hunter’s bowl. They transform a rather plain dish of polenta, Fontina cheese, and egg into something quite elegant. If you cannot obtain a fresh white truffle, use truffle oil to create the illusion. This Piedmontese recipe is from chef Pina Fassi of the very chic Gener Neuv restaurant in Asti.

Ingredients

  • cups polenta
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups water
  • 7 ounces Fontina cheese, diced
  • 6 egg yolks
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 white truffle, cut into thin shavings, or a little white truffle oil

Method

In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the polenta, flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and water. Bring slowly to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is soft and smooth and no longer tastes grainy, about 45 minutes. Taste and adjust with more salt if needed. Remove from the heat.

Divide the Fontina cheese evenly among 6 warmed bowls. Spoon the warm polenta on top, again dividing evenly. Carefully place an egg yolk on each serving. If using a fresh truffle, scatter a little grated cheese over the top and then some truffle shavings. If using truffle oil, drizzle a little of the oil over each egg yolk and then top with the grated cheese. Cover the bowls immediately and let the flavors infuse for a few minutes. Bring to the table and uncover so that everyone gets a whiff of the truffle perfume.

Wine

Stay with Piedmont reds. Splurge on a Barolo or Barbaresco, or perhaps a blend of Barbera and Nebbiolo, such as the Bricco Manzoni from Rocche dei Manzoni or the Suo di Giacomo from Eugenio Bocchino.

Variation

The chef at Ristorante I Bologna, in the Piedmontese town of Rocchetta Tanaro, mixes soft, warm polenta with a mixture of soft, ripe robiola di Roccaverano and ricotta cheeses, and then tops each dish with black truffle shavings. For this amount of polenta, or 6 servings, use 9 ounces robiola and 1 pound ricotta. Rich!