I was in Los Angeles and went into Terrain’s, a popular Italian restaurant…and I asked my kind, chill, fun waiter, “What is your best selling dish”? He replied, “Everyone asks for ‘that black truffle thing'”. It was a dish with thick tonnarelli (thicker strands than regular spaghetti) mixed with a meat sauce, with shaved black truffles on top. It was earthy, flavorful and I closed my eyes with every bite. I had a large glass of red wine to accompany it and it was a fantastic first meal to start my research in LA for this blog.
I got to thinking….I love Pennsylvania but some ingredients just aren’t everywhere. Black Truffle mushrooms are one of those ingredients. What to do…what to do? Easy…the next day, I walked around the farmer’s market and I came upon a stand of flavored salts. Fireworks began in my mind…all of the ideas were coming to me. How can I simplify this fabulous dish and change it up?
Instead of ground beef for the meat sauce, I sauté hot sauce in very small 1/2 inch bites and then as the juices get going, I add in the onion…then the garlic. I mix it, cook everything thoroughly, then I add the deep, rich tomato paste. It is more intense and usually followed by the crushed tomatoes or additional water…but I only add 1/2 cup chicken stock and 1/4 cup of the pasta water. I mixed it around and it turned to a bright red, thick sauce. I tumbled in the thick, golden strands and mixed everything together. Now, time for the flavor of the black truffle. In the entire recipe, all you need is 1/4 tsp or even less if that is too intense. The final finish…drizzle the black truffle oil on top and toss it through with your fork. The bite is thick, al dente fantastically sauced strands with a hot, fiery bite of the sausage…then the salt and oil give that earthy depth that I was craving ever since I left that restaurant! Now, you can make this at home. Treat yourself to flavored salts and the flavored oil. You can find it in specialty food stores.
1/2 lb spaghetti (thick spaghetti preferably)
1 small onion (chopped)
1 large hot sausage link (cut into 1 inch pieces, the size of the tip of your finger)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tbsp tomato paste (heaping)
4 crimini mushrooms (baby portable mushrooms)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup pasta water
1/4 tsp black truffle salt
1 tablespoon black truffle oil
Follow the directions on the package of spaghetti to make it al dente.
In a small saute pan, sizzle the sausage until it is almost cooked. Add the onions and mix through to coat the onions with the juices of the sausage. Add the garlic and mushrooms and sizzle together. Add the tomato paste and coat all of the ingredients. Add the chicken broth, mix through, then the pasta water and mix everything together.
Place spaghetti in the sauce pan and thoroughly coat the spaghetti with the sausage sauce. Add 1/4 tbsp of the black truffle flavored salt. Mix together and taste as you to, so the flavor is the way you want it to be. Drizzle the top of each portion with the black truffle oil. ENJOY!