In several of his well-known paeans to Provence, Peter Mayle describes, both lyrically and at great length, his love affair with the black truffles of that region. Sometimes couched as a cloak-and-dagger chase involving bizarre and nervy rendez-vous’ along dimly-lit back roads, or illicit dealings with “men with dirt under their fingernails and yesterday’s garlic on their breath” in the shady recesses of the village cafe, Mayle often puts himself on the wrong side of the law in search of the prize he calls “the black gold of Provence”. All this is necessary, he maintains, because the price of “rabasses”, as they’re known in Provencale, is so astronomical – an assessment borne out by even the most casual google search (one ounce of black French winter truffles = $106). Thankfully, we were able to pick up some cheaper, black summer truffles (£10 or $16 for two) in a London grocery store the last time we were there.
Once he’s managed to obtain said lucre though, Mayle is remarkably restrained in his descriptions of how best to prepare them. Of course, he says, you can stuff a pigeon with them, or combine them with cream and mushrooms as a sauce over beef or veal medallions, but the way to enjoy them at their best, most pungent, earthy and flavorful, is to do as little to them as possible. His preferred recipe is to grate a generous amount of black truffle into and over a simple, loose, French-style omelette, and enjoy with a glass of champagne, for breakfast.
Well, since our good friend Nuria at Spanish Recipes challenged us to submit our favorite omelette recipe to her Blog Your Omelet contest, we felt that we had to produce something pretty grand if we were to compete with her amazing range of eggy treats. So, here it is, both simple and sophisticated at the same time, not to mention being about the best breakfast imaginable, especially with the champagne!
The key to a good omelet, the great Jacques Pepin reminds us, is to keep it a bit “wet” or “loose” by not overcooking it (which Americans seem to hate, for some reason) and to never complicate the flavor of what should be the star of the show – the egg. Americans know how to do this best – kind of similar to how we can complicate the simplicity of a pizza by weighing it down with a million toppings. Look at the average diner omelet in America – it’s often stuffed with a lot of veggies and/or meat and oozing with cheese – perhaps the only way of saving the old diet “egg white omelet” from being boring and tasteless, however.
Regardless of how you usually make your omelet, and whether or not you have truffles, we urge you to try a simple and loose one next time. For ours we simply added butter to the warm pan and poured in our whisked egg and dash of cream, salt and pepper mixture. Stir or whisk the egg while it’s cooking in the warm pan until it begins to come together. Then, stop stirring and let it sit and cook. When it looks mostly cooked but still nicely moist and with a bit of looseness on the top layer, you’re done. (Remember, eggs continue to cook in their own heat, so you can undercook it and it should still be good within a minute or so.) If you so choose to, add some chopped chives and sliced mushrooms sauteed in some truffle oil (if you’ve got it) to the middle and then slice some black truffle (again, if you’ve got it) on top. No ketchup or hot sauce necessary, we promise.