Tortino di Tartufi

White Truffles Tortino with Potatoes and Parmesan

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • For

    2

    Persons (see Serving Suggestions)

Appears in

One of my husband’s never-wavering and absolute loves is white truffles. Fortunately for him, his birthday coincides with the height of the truffle season, and among my gifts to him there is always a tortino di tartufi. It can be very nice, on any ordinary day, to slice truffles on pasta, or a Parmesan risotto, or scaloppine, but in fulfilling a devotee’s longings, nothing does the job so thoroughly as a tortino. It is composed of layers of thin potato slices, Parmesan, truffles, and butter baked in the oven until the topmost layer of cheese melts and forms a crust. What happens is not only that all the aroma of which the truffle is capable expands with overwhelming power but also that it saturates the other ingredients, transubstantiating them into redolent extensions of the truffle itself. A liberal supply of good bread must be available to make sure no precious drop or crumb of flavor is left on the dish.

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Ingredients

  • 10 to 12 ounces boiling potatoes
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • An oven-to-table gratin dish made of porcelain or earthenware, about 1½ to 2 inches deep and 5 to 6 inches in diameter
  • Salt
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • 2 or more ounces fresh whole white truffle, brushed clean of all surface and embedded grit
  • 3 ounces parmigiano-reggiano (Parmesan), shaved into thin strips with a peeler or vegetable slicing tool

Method

  1. Wash the potatoes, cover, and boil them in their skins.
  2. Turn on the oven to 450°.
  3. When the potatoes are done, drain them and, as soon as you are able to handle them, peel them. Allow them to cool completely, then slice them into thin rounds.
  4. Smear the bottom of the gratin dish with 1 tablespoon of butter, then cover with a layer of potato slices sprinkled with salt and grindings of pepper. Using a truffle slicer or, if you don’t have one, a peeler or other vegetable slicing tool, slice enough white truffle—very thin—to cover the potatoes. Top with a layer of Parmesan slivers, then dot with butter. Repeat the procedure, layering all ingredients in the same sequence, until you have used them all. Top with Parmesan and dots of butter.
  5. Bake in the uppermost level of the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the Parmesan melts and forms a light crust. Allow the heat of the dish to subside before serving. Serve with slices of crusty, country-style bread.

Serving Suggestions

If one precedes the tortino with a generous platter of cold meats, this recipe could serve four people. A truffle tortino, however, ought not to have to share main billing; our appreciation of it should be favored by, not divided with, other dishes. My husband considers the amount given here barely sufficient for one portion, which, except for a salad of small, tender field greens to bring the event to a cool, clean close, would constitute for him the entire meal. I prefer to begin with a light soup, such as Zuppa Imperiale, Shredded Parsley Frittata Soup, or, from The Classic Italian Cook Book, Passatelli (page 70); it soothes, but not smothers, one’s anticipation, and equips one’s spirit and palate for serene enjoyment of the truffle. Served thus, the quantity given in the recipe should be satisfactory for a romantic dinner for two.

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