(Makes 16 hors d’oeuvres – Recipe courtesy of Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker, inspired by a similar recipe in their book, Beer Bites: Tasty Recipes and Perfect Pairings for Brew Lovers)
The Oregon Truffle Festival should top every gastronome’s bucket list, because it is a multi-day affair that excites the mind as well as the nose and palate with one of nature’s most beguiling foods. Saturday night is the Grand Truffle Dinner, which showcases the amazing talent and creativity of some of the PNW’s best chefs. But Sunday is a special day for folks who love to spend time in the kitchen. This is the Fresh Truffle Marketplace, and offers just-harvested truffles, delectable truffled samples, and edible truffle education. It is an all-day affair where vendors share truffle tips with each other as well as with the guests, and talented chefs prepare simple meals showcasing the luxury and versatility of Oregon truffles.
The crowd highlight of the day were the many intimate cooking demonstrations, which focuses on quick meals that could be readily replicated by the home cook. The dishes and bites I found most appealing were those that added decadence to familiar foods, and those that paired Oregon truffles with other native PNW flavors.
The beverage that accompanied every truffle dish served that weekend—lunch, dinner, or happy hour nibble—was wine. And for obvious reasons. The similarities are astounding and wholly complementary, with each variety of wine and truffle yielding a heady combination of aromas and flavors, some fruity, others earthy, some subtle and fleeting, others obvious and lingering. But at the Fresh Truffle Markeplace, Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker proved that beer can be a rightful companion to an assortment of truffled bites.
Here, these Portland-based food and beverage authors took a Louisiana favorite and gave it a PNW spin, with the use of Pacific oysters and Oregon truffles. The reason this remoulade works so well with black truffles is because Andrea tamed the piquancy by omitting the Dijon mustard and Tabasco that’s traditionally blended into this sauce. These omissions allow some of the subtler truffle flavors to be readily discernible. The endive is yet another playful bridge between PNW and creole cuisines. Endives are chicories; the roots of which are roasted and ground as a popular coffee additive in New Orleans, while those in the PNW prefer the leaves.
Christian recommends washing these yummy fritters down with a Big Ripple Belgian Tripel, from Eugene’s Falling Sky Brewing Co.
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cornichons or dill pickles, minced
1 tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed, and minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 tablespoon shallots, minced
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon paprika
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 Oregon white truffles (depending on size), grated and sliced
1 cup fine cornmeal or corn flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for additional seasoning
1 cup buttermilk
16 small Pacific oysters, shucked
Peanut or vegetable oil for frying
3 large Belgian endives, trimmed and separated into leaves
Stir together the mayonnaise, cornichons, capers, parsley, shallots, vinegar, and paprika in a small bowl, then season to taste with salt and black pepper. Stir in some grated truffle, a little at a time, to your taste. The sauce can be served immediately, but it is best after the truffle infuses for a few hours, or up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, Old Bay, and 1 teaspoon salt in a shallow bowl. Pour the buttermilk into another shallow bowl. Dip the oysters one at a time in the buttermilk, and then dredge them in the cornmeal mixture, patting gently to help it adhere and coat evenly. Collect the breaded oysters on a wire rack as you work.
Pour oil into a large skillet to a depth of ¾ inch and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil reaches 350°F, or when a crumb of breading sizzles enthusiastically, gently add some of the oysters, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry, turning once, until golden and crisp on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the fried oysters to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with salt while still warm. Repeat to fry the remaining oysters, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain the oil temperature and allowing it to return to 350°F between batches.
To assemble, arrange the 16 largest endive leaves on a serving platter (reserve the small inner leaves for another use). Spoon a dollop of the rémoulade into the wide, cuplike end of each leaf. Nestle a fried oyster on the sauce and finish with a thin slice of white truffle. Serve immediately.