In discovery of Alibert Pasta Fresca – Part two “Truffle Hunting”
Next up I decide on the Gran Raviolo with white truffles on the basis that it’s best to start the pasta with one of the more prestigious and delicate flavours, truffles are after all known as the “diamonds of the kitchen”. Every year some friends of ours go to the region of Alba to the annual truffle festival where dealers flock to both buy and sell the best truffles of the year. I’ve never made the truffle pilgrimage myself but I am partial to truffle dishes and particularly like white truffles as used in this Alibert Raviolo. There are many different truffle varieties but the key difference between white and the classic black truffle is that the white is the most valuable and therefore highly esteemed in Italian cuisine as most commonly found in the Alba Piedmont region of Italy whilst the greater percentage of black truffles, 45%, are found in the French Perigord region.
Fact: The record price paid for a single white truffle was set in December 2007, when Macau casino owner Stanley Ho paid 330,000 USD (£165,000) for a specimen weighing 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb), discovered by Luciano Savini and his dog Rocco.
When served in restaurants there can be a fair amount of theatre to preparing the truffle. A waiter usually comes to the table with the bowl of pasta and first cleans then grates the fresh truffle over it before serving. All this, in addition to providing a great spectacle, to ensure that the truffle is not over cooked as you don’t want to compromise it’s delicate flavour. Innovatively, Alibert have tried to capture this same philosophy in their Raviolo by recommending cooking directly in the pan (as an alternative to the traditional cooking method in water) to ensure product integrity and maximum flavour by not overcooking. A 500g pack serves four starter portions and on pack they recommend 4 minutes cooking time.
The team at Alibert told me that all of their smaller pasta varieties can be cooked directly in the pan with the desired sauce; milk, cream, tomato etc in approximately 3-4 minutes. Their larger pasta’s such as the Raviolo with white truffle have traditionally been cooked in water as per other fresh pastas but in recent trials they have found that they too can be cooked directly in the pan simply by adjusting the quantity of sauce ratio to pasta. In the spirit of a good test I decide to try both to see which comes out best so I divide my pack into water and cream.
Gran Raviolo al Tartufo bianco – Classically cooked in boiling water and served with melted butter and parmesan
Ingredients: 250g raviolo (half the 500g pack), pinch of rock salt (to salt the water), 25g butter, finely grated parmesan to sprinkle on top.
Preparation: Cooked in salted boiling water for 4 minutes and served with melted butter and finely grated grana padano o parmigiano.
Gran Raviolo al Tartufo bianco – Test cooked in fry pan with cream
Ingredients: 250g ravioli (half the 500g pack), pinch of rock salt (to salt the water), 100g single cream
Preparation: The pan method is so quick and simple that it makes preparing pasta a breeze. Pour the cream into a frying pan and bring to the boil. Add in the ravioli and cook for 2-3 minutes and serve immediately.
This raviolo is quite large so for the pan cooked method, as per my indications in Part one “adventures in gnocchi”, I found that the pasta needed to be cooked for a good 2-3 minutes to ensure it came out as well as the raviolo cooked in boiling water. That said, the results are amazingly similar and both methods give optimum results. I tend to sway towards the traditional method purely because of my preference of accompaniment, in that I like my pasta simply tossed in oil or butter with some grated parmesan, but I appreciate the fact that with this dual cooking possibility you can fast-track the preparation by cooking directly in the pan. The flavour of the white truffle is subtle yet delicious and the quality of the pasta is as close to hand-made pasta as you could expect from a mass produced product.
Via F.lli Bandiera, 30 – 31022 Preganziol (TV) Tel. 0422 6301 – Fax. 0422 380277