Time seems to be ever fleeting, and time off well that never seems to come. I have been trying to get out and actually do something here in Dubai but all I do on my day off is sleep, do laundry, nap, find a place for dinner and then sleep…exciting chef life I must say. That is why I jumped at the chance when Tarik and Amanda from Atlantis invited me to a white truffle cooking class with Michelin starred chef Giorgio Locatelli. What else would a chef be doing with a couple of hours of down time between services?
Giorgio, the chef owner of Locanda Locatelli, the Michelin starred restaurant in London was here at his outpost @ Atlantis, Ronda Locatelli for a fall cooking class that was highlighting white Italian truffles. I was concerned a bit that I would miss the chance to hang out for the class as our lunch service hit late and furious, at 2:45 in the afternoon I was franticly trying (with no luck) to place my orders for the following day and get a move on over to the hotel. I think I made the 3 pm deadline by 90 seconds…whew!
After chatting a bit with Amanda, Tarik, Diego and Alessandro it was time for the class. 15 or so of the Dubai media and a couple of VIP guests were in attendance and when Giorgio entered, all fell silent. The class centered on white truffles. Giorgio would cook 3 different dishes, a ravioli with potato puree, white truffles and egg yolk, hand cut pasta with freshly shaved white truffles and a very traditional (and tasty) white truffle risotto. The hurried pace of my day had suddenly passed me by.
Giorgio filled the 1.5 hour class like the pro that he is. The class, part history lesson, part cooking class while the last part left you feeling like we were all hanging out with him at the corner espresso shop in Milan, Florence or whatever your favorite city is in Italy. Not only a master of his craft, Giorgio is also a master at keeping those around him focused and entertained at the same time…not an easy feat to do. As the pasta was rolled and the truffles were passed, it was difficult to drift from the focus of the class. Thoughts of the Italian countryside and my own time in Italy spun round my head, keeping my mind, if only for a while off the restaurant which I run a short 5 minute cab ride away.
Time whizzed by. The three courses served, conservations alternated between English and Italian, the cameras flashed and before I realized it, we were winding things down. Back to reality, and it is now time to get back to the kitchen. After an interruption of another’s interview, I briefly chatted with the master, the essence of those white truffles still lingering on my palette. After a few quick words it was back to our individual worlds, Giorgio back to his interview and me back to a very busy kitchen at the other end of the Palm. Just wish the photo of us 2 had come out better, maybe next time.
Ronda Locatelli is running the white truffle promotion for a month or so while they are in season. If you are in, around or planning a visit to Dubai I would make this a must see stop on your culinary agenda, as well as West 14th…
Thanks to everyone @ Ronda Locatelli and Atlantis for the great escape. Here is the recipe for the aforementioned pasta dish with egg yolk compliments of Giorgio…bon appetite!
White Truffle Recipe by Chef Giorgio Locatelli
Homemade Egg Yolk Potato Parcel with White Truffle
(Straccio Ripieno All’Occhio di Bue, PatateTartufo Bianco)
Recipe for 4
4 egg yolk
250 gram pasta dough
200 gram potato mush
200 gram parmesan cheese
100 gram butter
- Make the pasta dough in the usual way and roll through the machine.
- Cut the pasta in big squares ( 8-9 cm per side ) and brush one half with beaten egg.
- Then place the egg yolk on the half that is brushed with egg.
- Fold in a triangle shape without braking the yolk.
- Cook in boiling and salted water for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Place in a plate top with parmesan cheese and butter noisette.
- Shave the fresh white truffle on top.
To make the pasta
For 600 gram of pasta
500g sieved flour
3 large eggs plus 2 extra (large) egg yolks (all at room temperature)
A pinch of salt
- Preferably make the pasta by hand – especially if you are making a relatively small quantity like this, which will be difficult for a food processor to mix well.
- Sieve the flour into a clean bowl, then turn it out into a mound on a clean surface and make a well in the middle.
- Sprinkle the salt into the well, and then crack in the eggs.
- Have a bowl of water on one side, so you can dip your hands into it and wet them, to help bring the dough together if it is being stubborn towards the end of kneading.
- To begin, break the yolks with the fingertips of one hand, and then begin to move your fingers in a circular motion, gradually incorporating the flour, until you have worked in enough to start bringing it together in a ball.
- Then you can start to work the ball of dough by pushing it with the heel of your hand, then folding the top back on itself, turning it a little clockwise, and repeating, again and again, for about 10 minutes, wetting your hands if it helps, until the dough is springy, but still feels quite firm and difficult to work.
(If you are using a food processor, sieve the flour into the bowl, add the salt, then start the machine, and slowly add the egg yolks, followed by the whole eggs. Keep the motor running slowly, or it will heat up the pasta too much, and also ‘beat’ rather than mix. Once the dough has come together, take it out and put it on a clean work surface).
- Don’t worry that the dough feels hard; after it has relaxed for a while it will be perfect.
- Divide the dough into 2 balls, wrap each in a damp cloth and rest for about an hour before using.
Rolling the pasta
- Roll the first ball of dough with a rolling pin (keep the rest covered in the damp cloth) – until it is about a centimetre thick, and will go through the pasta machine comfortably (if it is too thick, the pasta machine will have to use so much force to make it go through that it will damage the machine and squeeze out too much moisture in the process, so the pasta will be dry).
- Put the machine on the first (thickest) setting to start with, then feed the piece of pasta through the machine turning the handle with one hand, and supporting the dough as it comes through with the other.
- Then change to the second setting, and put it through again.
- Repeat another 2-3 times, taking the setting down one each time. Don’t worry if the pasta appears slightly streaky, this should disappear as you carry on rolling it.
- Next, fold the strip of pasta back on itself, put the machine back onto the first setting and put the pasta through.
- Repeat 3-4 more times, again taking the setting down one each time, and you will see that the pasta begins to take on a sheen.
- As it begins to get longer, you will find that you have to pull it very gently. You shouldn’t need to dust it with flour, unless you feel it is too soft and likely to stick and stretch too much.
- Now you need to cut your strip in half. Keep one half covered in a damp cloth, then fold the length of the other strip into three, bringing one end in and the other over the top of that, so that the pasta is the same width as the machine.
- Roll it with the rolling pin, so it is no more than half a centimetre thick, then put the machine back onto the first setting and feed the pasta through – the opposite way this time, (ie. widthways, not lengthways). The idea of changing direction is to put equal elasticity and strength throughout the pasta.
10. Keep feeding it through this way, taking it down two or three settings as you go.
11. Finally, fold the pasta back on itself, then put the machine back onto the first setting, and take it down again through the settings until it is about 1.5mm thick. By now the pasta should be nice and shiny, with no lines in it, and you are ready to cut it into strips (either by hand, or using a cutter attachment on your machine), or use it to make filled pasta. It is best to use each sheet as soon as it is ready before starting to roll the rest of your dough.