Chicken with Black Truffles and a Mushroom Cream Sauce
If you have never tried a dish with fresh black truffles, it’s honestly hard to know what all the fuss is about. Once your tastebuds have made the connection between the earthy aroma and the intense flavour, you begin to comprehend why chefs refer to these fungi as “black diamonds,” among other labels.
To me, “black gold” always referred to crude oil because of the theme song to the 60s sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies. I believe the line about oil was, “Black gold, Texas tea…” Since then, though, I have come to appreciate a different kind of black gold: the truffles from the fertile soils of Provence. The black truffle that I used in this recipe was a gift from our friends Susan and Towny from the Provence WineZine it came from Les Pastras in the Luberon (read the story of this farm here). I paired a Famille Perrin red wine blend (50% Grenache, 50% Syrah) with the dish, and you can read more about it HERE.
Chicken with Truffles and Mushrooms
- 1 Black Truffle
- 1 large Chicken Breast boneless, with or without skin
- Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 tbsp Flour
- 3 tbsp Butter unsalted
- 2 oz Cremini Mushrooms cleaned and quartered
- 1/4 cup White or Rosé Wine
- 1 cup Chicken Stock
- 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
- Warm dinner plates in the oven, a plate warmer, or the microwave (make sure they are microwave safe). Peel the truffle; chop and save the peelings, then set aside. Wrap peeled truffle until ready to use.
- Cut chicken breast into 4 even pieces. Season with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour. Set aside. Season the chicken before dredging, so the seasoning adheres to the meat.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet. Add mushrooms, give a quick toss, them let them cook undisturbed for several minutes until brown. Season with salt and toss again; allow other sides to brown. Keep warm in the pan.
- Place a second skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Brown chicken, skin side down first for 3-4 minutes, then flip and sauté an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan, set aside, and tent with foil to keep warm.
- Deglaze pan with wine. When almost fully evaporated, add 1 cup of chicken stock. Reduce by half, and return chicken, skin side up. When chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes, add truffle peelings, then cream. Let the sauce thicken.
- Reheat the mushrooms.
- Shave the truffle onto warmed plates – the plate's warmth helps to release flavour and scent without cooking the truffle – then place some cream in the middle of the plates, top with chicken, then top the chicken with mushrooms. Serve immediately.
More about Black Truffles
Searching for and finding Tuber Melanosporum (black truffles) requires a combination of well-trained animals and local’s knowledge of the terroir. Its rarity and distinctive earthy aroma make the black truffle the equivalent of culinary gold for many chefs. In France, the black diamond (diamant noir) has been considered a luxury gourmet ingredient since the 18th century, helped by the fact that King Francois 1er insisted that truffles be served in his court at every meal. Today, the French black truffle harvest leads world production at roughly 45%, of which 80% of the truffles come from the Vaucluse. The Périgord Noir is the same species of truffle named for the region where they are found in the southwest of France.
Additional Read: The Truffle Dogs of Provence.
The typical period for harvesting black truffles in Europe is from November through early March. The market demand generally peaks around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Although, some food lovers claim that the tastier truffles appear in the first part of the year. Like any other commodity market, pricing varies. Good quality truffles can command wholesale prices between 400-1000 €/kilogram, and retail buyers should expect to pay two or three times that number. With the prospect of those returns, it’s easy to understand why truffle hunters guard their supply locations a secret.
The white truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico) is almost exclusively found near Alba, Italy. This fungi’s rarity impacts its market value significantly. In 2017, white truffles’ top sales price reached €88 per gram (almost 88,000 €/kilogram). These truffles are heavily aromatic, and their flesh is a light white-grey making them look like lumpy potatoes. Unlike the black varieties, the white truffle spore is yet to be recreated by agronomists – these truffles are created only by nature.
Richerenches is a quiet agricultural village in the Vaucluse, complete with the elements you expect to see a stone church, a tree-lined main street, and a few shops. However, on the 3rd Sunday in January, the town is anything but sleepy when crowds gather for the annual Messe aux truffes (Truffle Mass) in l’Église Saint Denis. Since 1952, this service honours Saint Antoine, the patron saint of the trufficulteurs (truffle farmers). As an outsider, you can expect to stand outside the church stamping your feet to keep warm or squeeze into la Maison Templière, where the mass simulcast on a big screen. On this Sunday in January, Richerenches is morphed from a sleepy village to a lively black truffle auction.
Truffle Markets in Provence
Here is a list of seasonal (November-March) truffle markets in Provence:
- Vaison la Romaine
- Aups (Truffles are one more reason to visit)
- Suze la Rousse
- Saint Paul Trois Chateaux