The earthy, lusty flavor of truffles is a welcome treat when cool weather approaches. For this recipe we’ve opted for fresh black winter truffles, which are both chopped and mixed into the Madeira butter as well as left in whole slices to dot the bird’s crisp skin. If you don’t want to splurge on fresh truffles, you can substitute frozen or jarred ones with good results, but if it’s available we urge you to seek out the good stuff.
What to buy: Look for truffles in gourmet grocery stores or online at D’Artagnan. If you can’t locate black winter truffles, you may substitute black summer ones, which have a lighter-colored interior.
Madeira is a slightly sweet, fortified wine from the Portuguese island of the same name. It complements truffles well, but tawny or reserve port is a suitable substitute.
Special equipment: The pros use a small slicer to thinly shave fresh truffles. You may also use a mandoline or a sharp knife.
- 1Combine the butter and wine in a small bowl. Coarsely chop about half the truffle slices, add to the butter mixture, and stir to combine.
- 2Separate the chicken skin from the meat by sliding your fingers underneath the skin, being very careful not to tear it. Evenly distribute the butter mixture underneath the skin across the breast and legs, then carefully place reserved truffle slices under the skin. Rub salt all over chicken skin, place chicken on a plate, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 12 hours and up to overnight.
- 3Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange rack in middle. Remove chicken from refrigerator and rub skin with olive oil. Season all over with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and let sit at room temperature about 30 minutes.
- 4Place chicken on a rack in a baking dish or small roasting pan and roast until juices run clear and a thermometer inserted in inner thigh (but not touching the bone) registers 165°F, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and let rest about 15 to 20 minutes before carving.
Beverage pairing: Produttori del Barbaresco Nebbiolo Langhe, Italy. Nebbiolo is a lovely wine for truffles, as it often develops some mushroomy flavors (it comes from the same place as the best white truffles). It can also be good for chicken, particularly if you buy one of the bottlings from a lesser appellation than Barolo or Barbaresco. This one has great structure and lovely earthy overtones, but is light enough to not overpower the chicken.