A few months back, I had purchased some fresh black truffles for a dinner party I catered, and I had a small piece of truffle leftover. I, of course, was not going to let that truffle go to waste and they only last a short time in their fresh state before they lose their aroma and flavor so I proceeded to infuse anything I could think of that would absorb that truffle essence: honey, butter, Arborio rice, Parmigiano-Reggiano... and I STILL had a small amount of black truffle left.
I had purposely chosen all foods that would keep for a long time so that I could still enjoy the truffle at a later date when fresh truffles were no longer in season. Eggs are an excellent vehicle for truffle because they naturally soak up and retain that truffle aroma and flavor extremely well but unfortunately, they don’t keep very long so I initially scrapped that option but then a light bulb went off!
I remembered a dish I’d had in a small restaurant in Italy with salt-cured egg yolks shaved over the top and I decided that would be the perfect solution. Making salt-cured egg yolks is an exercise in patience because they take 5 days to prepare, but it’s absolutely worth it. Even without the truffle, they have this amazingly rich, briny, umami character that incredibly elevates any dish and is an instant miracle cure for bland food. In addition, as long as you keep them in an airtight container and chilled, they will last at least a month (if you don’t eat them all first!). They are super simple to make and require just a few ingredients that everyone has in their pantry (aside from the optional fresh truffles, of course!).
Salt-Cured Egg Yolks
2 cups kosher salt
1 ½ cups sugar
9 large egg yolks
Fresh truffle (optional)
First, mix the salt and sugar and spread half of it in an 8X8 baking dish. Make 9 evenly-spaced wells in the salt mixture and place 1 yolk in each. Top yolks with truffle shavings, if desired.
Cover yolks with the remaining salt mixture, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and chill for 4 days. Remove yolks from salt mixture and gently brush off most of the remaining salt. Yolks will be firmer and easier to handle at this point. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees and place the cured yolks on a wire rack set over a baking dish.
Dry the yolks in the warm oven until they are a firm texture similar to cheese (1 ½-2 hours). Turn the oven off and allow the yolks to continue to dry in the oven overnight. You are now ready to finely grate the cured yolks over any dish you’d like. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
I’d recommend making A LOT of these cured egg yolks because once you get your first taste, you’ll want to shave them on anything and everything from your morning toast with butter to pasta to soups to grilled vegetables and everything in between.
My favorite salt-cured egg yolk dish is this delicious and beautiful kale salad with pomegranate, artichoke hearts, and Parmigiano-Reggiano which will be showing up on the menu for Chef’s Dinner: Cena con Amici at The Chopping Block at the Merchandise Mart on February 20th so come join us and taste this humble but extraordinary delicacy!