Pascal Aussignac, co-owner of Club Gascon in London, contributed this seasonal recipe for whole black truffle baked in clay.
â- 4 outside leaves of a whole cabbage, de-stalked
â- 6 whole spinach leaves, de-stalked
â- 1 whole black Périgord truffle
â- Fleur de sel
For the shallot compote â- 2 large shallots
â- 40g butter
â- 1tbs sugar
â- 1tbs honey
â- Â½tsp freshly ground black pepper
â- 2tsp lemon juice
â- 2tsp Armagnac
Make the compote first. Gently simmer the shallots in a small pan with the butter, sugar and 150ml water until very soft, about 30 minutes. Stir in the honey, pepper and lemon juice and continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and mix in the Armagnac. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 180Â°C. Roll out the clay to a round between two large sheets of non-stick baking parchment and set aside.
Using a sharp knife, cut out the central stalk vein from the cabbage leaves in a V-shape where it merges into the main leaf - this is so the leaf will mould nicely when rolled.
Blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling water for a minute or two, then lift them out with a slotted spoon into a bowl of iced water to cool. Repeat with the spinach leaves, blanching for 1 minute. Drain and cool in the iced water.
Then lay out both sets of leaves on a clean tea towel and pat dry. Lay the spinach leaves on a board overlapping in a large round and spoon half of the shallot compote in the centre. Press the truffle in the middle and spoon over the rest of the shallots, moulding around the truffle.
Draw up the spinach leaves to make a neat ball. Lay out half the cabbage leaves in a round and wrap up the spinach-covered truffle, then repeat the layering with the remaining cabbage leaves, pressing into the truffle to make a neat ball.
Press the ball into the clay and draw up the sides to cover the leaves, shaping with your hands into a neat ball. Put the ball in a shallow ovenproof dish and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.
Remove from the heat, and stand for 5 minutes. Using a small hammer, gently smash the clay open and peel it away, along with the first layer of cabbage leaves. Cut the ball neatly in half to reveal the layers of cabbage and spinach. Serve with a small mixed leaf salad and some truffle vinaigrette.