By Natasha Anderson
Madison County native and Le Cordon Bleu graduate Susi Gott Séguret first became interested in cooking with truffles 14 years ago while living in France. After spending a week immersed in the truffle fields of Provence as part of a group of French slow food enthusiasts, she returned to her office and spotted the New York Times headline ‘Coveted, French, and Now in Tennessee’.
“The Times food writer Molly O’Neill had unearthed a truffle grower (Tom Michaels) not only on American soil, not only on the East Coast, but right across the mountain from where I grew up in the far reaches of Western North Carolina,” says Séguret. “Thus began my fascination with this elusive and most cherished of culinary ingredients and the people who dare to cultivate it.”
Cooking with Truffles demystifies the fungus for both professional and home chefs and includes more than 150 recipes to suit a variety of palates and occasions. The book also includes an introduction to truffle history—both at home and abroad—as well as truffle science and geography, and notes on taste profiles and seasonality. Anecdotes and photos are included throughout.
“Most American chefs have had little or no chance to experiment with an ingredient as justifiably expensive as the truffle—justifiably in that the growing time, expenditure and free-floating anxiety have likely topped ten years—and most American diners have yet to discover what a truffle really tastes like,” says Séguret. “I wrote this book to try and help bridge the gap between grower and chef, truffle and diner.”
Those who want to try the book’s recipes will need to get their hands on a truffle.
To do so, Jane Morgan Smith, truffle grower, aficionado and former North American Truffle Growers Association (NATGA) president, recommends contacting the Mills River Research Station or NATGA.
“You wouldn’t believe how many people have no idea that this delicacy is grown in the US,” says Smith. “Susi’s book helps spread the word about the US truffle industry and features recipes that always make the truffle stand out.”
Cooking with Truffles: A Chef’s Guide is published by Penguin Random House and available in paperback for $20. Learn more about Séguret and her culinary workshops and other offerings at SusiGott.com, SchoolofCulinaryArts.org, AppalachianCulinary.com and AshevilleTruffle.com. Follow her @Facebook.com/SusiGottSeguret, Instagram.com/SGSeguret and Twitter.com/SeasonalTastes.
Truffled Corn Chowder
Hearty and satisfying both in summer and winter, this soup can be varied by the addition of in-season squash (both summer and winter varieties), and can be augmented by dried beans or fresh lima beans for more sustenance.
2–3 ears of corn or baby frozen kernels
2–3 ribs celery
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 quart chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
Slight touch of cayenne
1 cup heavy cream
Grated truffle, to taste
Peel and dice onions to one-fourth to one-half inch and sauté with diced celery in olive oil until translucent. Add diced potatoes and chicken broth and heat to boiling. Lower flame and add corn and seasoning. Blend, if desired, or leave morsels as they are. At the very end, stir in the heavy cream and the grated truffle. Top servings with more grated truffle or truffle slivers.
Pour a glass of your favorite beverage (a Sauvignon Blanc would serve excellently), and celebrate with a resounding Bon Appétit!