The technique to make a decadent truffled cheese is the same for any truffled foodstuff that possesses copious amounts of fat (or alcohol). At the annual Oregon Truffle Festival in Eugene, chicken ranchers sell truffled eggs. Distillers sell their signature truffled vodka. Expect fantastically long lines for guests waiting to taste a white truffle salami. Food artisans suffuse oils, butters, creams, and even mayonnaise with the heady aromas and flavors of Oregon truffles, simply by letting the fungus and the fat sit together in a covered container. It’s almost inconceivable that such rich gustatory reward can be had for so little effort.
All the foodstuffs I sampled throughout the weekend were delicious, but I found cheese and truffles to be the most balanced and complementary, and I left the festival craving more. As soon as I returned home with a couple of fresh Oregon black truffles in my bag, I decided to try my hand at making a truffled cheese. But which cheese to use? Surely, some must mate better with Oregon black truffles than others.
I consulted with what many fromage-o-philes regard to be the finest cheese shop in the Pacific Northwest. The Cheese Bar in Portland is a nationally-acclaimed cheese counter with a rotating stock of some 200 cheeses from around the world, including many from the Willamette Valley. The staff noted that great Italian cheese makers consider pecorino and black truffles the quintessential matrimony. Indeed, one of the preeminent cheeses in the world is pecorino al tartufo—a pecorino from Tuscany that has been studded with flakes of black truffle. Though any cheese will work, The Cheese Bar confirmed that a raw (unpasteurized), semi-firm sheep’s milk cheese, like pecorino, is the perfect sponge for absorbing Oregon black truffles’ almond-y, fruity, and earthy aromas.
3-4 small Oregon black truffles (or a large one, quartered)
8 ounce block or wedge of pecorino cheese
Wrap the truffles in a paper towel to wick away moisture, then place them in a glass or ceramic casserole. (Alternatively, I prefer to lay the truffles on a bed of uncooked white rice, foregoing the paper towel). Unwrap the cheese and set in the casserole with the truffles and cover. Place the covered dish in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, and upon opening, you will have something sublime.
VARIATIONS: Instead of cheese, try nestling a stick of butter in the casserole with the truffles. Or place a container filled with avocado, grapeseed or other neutral flavored cooking oil into the casserole dish to make your own truffle oil. Try adding your favorite salume—or farm fresh eggs or even duck fat—and let them imbibe the truffle’s perfume.