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swirl and savor

Tajarin, The Most Decadent Pasta I've Ever Made, Eater or Served!

Beth Ribblett

In doing research for our upcoming trip to Piemonte, it's not surprising that I've come across many recipes that feature their most prized food, the aromatic and highly flavorful white truffle.  And since Barolo is definitely one of our favorite wines on earth, I decided that I needed to cook something from the region for our annual staff dinner and ran across this decadent recipe from Lidia Bastianich.

The problem was in getting a truffle in a very short amount of time that I could use for the dish.  After a few days of  phone calls, texts and internet searches, our friend Jeff Talbot over at Ancora came through with a nice chunk of black truffle.  Although the recipe called for the traditional white truffle from Alba (upwards of $2000 per lb!) I figure the black truffle at half the price would have a similar, although not nearly as flavorful, effect.

Tajarin is different from regular pasta in the amount of egg yolks used that give it a beautiful saffron yellow color.  It is a handcut pasta that takes some time to make, but if you are going to the trouble of fresh truffles, why not?  I used the best ingredients possible - fresh organic egg yolks, Panini organic Parmigiano and the best butter ever made, the Delitia Burro di Parma.  How can you go wrong?

We served the 2008 Einaudi Barolo Terlo that was not nearly ready to drink but was still beautiful with the rich, butter ladden dish!  

For the Pasta
The black truffle from Jeff at Ancora
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for working
9 large egg yolks, (about 2/3 cup)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons water, plus more as needed

For cooking and dressing the pasta
1 tablespoon Coarse sea salt, or kosher salt
½ pound butter, (2 sticks)
1 ounce white truffle butter, or more, brushed cleans
1 cup Grana Padano, or Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
Pasta-Rolling Machine;

To mix the tajarin dough, put the 2 cups flour in the food processor, fitted with the metal blade, and process for a few seconds to aerate. Mix together the egg yolks, olive oil and 3 tablespoons water in a measuring cup or other spouted container. Start the food processor running and pour in the liquids through the feed tube (scrape in all the drippings). Process for 30 to 40 seconds until a dough forms and gathers on the blade. If the dough does not gather on the blade or process easily, it is too wet or too dry. Feel the dough, then work in either more flour or ice water, in small amounts, using the machine or kneading by hand. 

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for a minute until it's smooth, soft and stretchy. Press it into a disk, wrap well in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for a half hour. (Refrigerate the dough for up to a day or freeze it for a month or more. Defrost in the refrigerator and return to room temperature before rolling.) 

Cut the dough in 4 equal pieces. Keeping the dough lightly floured, roll each piece through a pasta machine at progressively narrower settings into sheets that are 5-inches wide (or as wide as your machine allows) and 20-inches or longer. Cut each strip crosswise in three shorter rectangles, each about 7-inches long. 

Flour each of these rectangles and roll them up the long way, into a loose cylinder, like a fat cigar. With a sharp knife, cut cleanly through the rolled dough crosswise at 1/8 to 1/4-inch intervals. Shake and unroll the cut pieces, opening them into tajarin ribbons, each about 7-inches long and 1/4-inch wide. Dust them liberally with flour and set them on a floured towel or tray. 

To cook the tajarin, bring to the boil 6 quarts of water with the tablespoon salt. Meanwhile, melt the butter in the large skillet and dilute it with 1/3 cup of the hot pasta water. Heat until barely simmering. 

When the water is at a rolling boil, shake the tajarin in a colander to remove excess flour and drop them all at once into the pot. Stir well to separate the ribbons and bring back to the boil. Cook for only a minute or until the pasta is just al dente, then lift it from the water with a spider, drain briefly, and drop it into the skillet. 

Over low heat toss the tajarin until well coated with butter. Turn off the heat and toss in half the grated cheese. Shave coin-sized flakes of truffle-using half the piece-over the pasta and toss in. 

Heap individual portions of pasta into warm bowls. Quickly shave the remaining truffle, in equal shares, on top of each mound of tajarin and serve immediately.