July has well and truly signalled the start of truffle season - with truffles available from Western Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria. This one comes from the Yarra Valley and is grown by Tibooburra.
Horticulturally, truffles are a symbiotic fungus that live on the roots of certain trees. In Europe, they are usually grown in the wild, here in the Australia they are an introduced "crop" with the first Truffières appearing in Tasmania and Western Australia in the 1990's.
Generally speaking the seedlings are first inoculated with French Black Truffle, what we know as Périgord Truffle or Tuber melanosporum. The seedlings used are Holly Oak, English Oak and Hazelnut and due to a parting gift at a recent truffle dinner, we now have our very own inoculated Holly Oak seedling.
You never know, maybe in five years time we'll have our very own supply of truffles!
For the recipe this week I thought I'd take a different tact and rather than make a savoury dish I'm making a dessert. A couple of my most memorable truffle dishes have been desserts - a truffle pannacotta and a truffle custard. Dairy based dishes really seem to lengthen and enhance the truffle flavour so I've added a little bit of luxury to a very humble dessert and created a sweet and creamy, truffle infused, rice pudding.
3 cups milk
1 cup rice - short-grained/arborio
¼ - ½ cup caster sugar, to taste
grated black truffle
vanilla bean paste, optional
cream or milk, extra
Place the milk (and vanilla if using) in a saucepan over a medium heat and bring up to simmering point - add in the rice and some grated black truffle (keep a little back to add later). Stir to mix it through and then continuing simmering - you'll need to stir often to make sure the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Slowly the rice will start to absorb the milk and the mixture will becoming thicker. Add the rest of the grated truffle after about 10 minutes and add the sugar about 5 minutes after that. At the 20 minute mark, the milk was just about fully absorbed, but the rice wasn't quite ready, so I added a 50/50 blend of milk and cream (½ cup at a time) until the rice had cooked through and the pudding is thick and creamy.
Serve straight away with extra shaved truffle if you're feeling especially decadent.