A couple days ago someone who received a batch of Italian truffles in Minnesota was referred to me for some advice on how to use and preserve them. It gave me the chance to write up a recipe I made a while back, and it’s a great one: Chicken Demi-Deuil.
The first time I read about this was in my culinary hero’s book: Cooking with the seasons by Jean Louis Palladin. It translates to “half-mourning”, referring to the half black and white pattern. It’s a time honored recipe using black truffles, and a great example of how to use their aroma to infuse things alongside the truffles themselves.
Basically you take a chicken, shove some truffles under the skin, then leave it overnight to infuse in flavor, then roast the next day. The aroma of the truffle permeates the meat of the chicken, giving it a great taste. It’s an ingenious way to use and showcase truffles, not to mention delicious.
Roast Chicken “Demi-Deuil”, With Black Truffles
My recipe differs from traditional ones in that I soak the chicken in a truffle infused brine as well, which, although it takes a little extra time, adds an additional layer of truffle flavor in the bird and seasons it as well-a great way to treat any large piece of poultry like chicken or turkey.
You’ll notice too that the chicken is refrigerated uncovered for a night too after the truffles are tucked under the skin. The exposure to air and resulting oxidization tightens the skin and helps it too crisp-a useful trick to know whether you have truffles or not.
I should add that If you don’t have truffles, dried slices of porcini would be a fun substitute since they will get re-hydrated during the cooking process. You could also use a rub or butter flavored with dried wild mushrooms placed in between the skin and the meat. The butter melts as the bird cooks, allowing you to baste with it.
Serves 4 as an entrée.
- 1 whole roasting chicken
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 12 slices fresh black truffles, cut 1/8 in thick
- 2 tbsp canola, grapeseed oil or melted lard
- 1 recipe truffle brine (This is optional-recipe follows)
- Soak the chicken in the cooled truffle brine overnight. The next day, remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Working gently with your hands, loosen the skin of the chicken all over by poking a finger between the skin and the flesh of the bird. Continue loosening the skin of the chicken with your fingers gently until you are able to reach down to the legs.
- Take the slices of truffle and place them under the skin. Continue placing truffle slices under the skin of the bird until the bird is evenly covered and all of the truffle slices are used (make sure to get some slices around the legs and thighs!) Truss the legs of the chicken or tuck them under the bird so that it will cook evenly. Refrigerate the chicken overnight, uncovered.
- The next day, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before cooking. (Cover it with a bowl or something on the counter if it’s summer and warm, or if there are flies in your house, or if leaving poultry out in the open makes you uncomfortable.)
- Preheat the oven to 450, then roast the chicken until it is nicely browned, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300 and cook until the chicken is cooked through, and the juice runs clear when a leg is pierced. This should take about 1.5 hours, depending on the size of your bird and if your oven has a convection or fan setting.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before carving to allow the juices to redistribute and tenderize the meat.
- Serve with roasted potatoes and a green vegetable like haricot verts or broccoli.
Black Truffle Brine
If you’re lucky enough to dig fresh truffles from the ground, you may end up with trim from cleaning them or shavings. This is a great way to use truffle pieces that may be gritty, getting old or woody from you hoarding them in the refrigerator, or otherwise difficult to work with.
Yield: 2 gallons
- 2 gallons water
- 1 tsp truffle shavings or trim
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1 head of garlic, halved lengthwise
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 20 black peppercorns
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a large stock pot, then turn off the heat and cool.
- Store the brine in an airtight container until needed.