There is little else in the world that is quite as aromatically appealing as the truffle.  White truffle, black truffle, summer truffle, winter truffle, truffle butter, truffle honey, truffle salt, truffle oil, the possibilities are endless.  I frequently depend on this rare accoutrement to take savory dishes to new heights.  So when a friend suggested a casual Sunday dinner, I called on the exotic fungi to transform an otherwise typical burger into an unexpected treat.

I modeled my rendition on Umami Burger’s truffle burger, pairing truffle cheese and truffle aioli with high-quality meat and arugula tossed in truffle oil.  I was tempted to mix truffle oil into the hamburger, but after consulting a chef friend I learned that most of the truffle experience is olfactory and cooking truffle weakens its fragrance.   


Armed with a list of truffle ingredients, I embarked on a trip to the San Francisco Ferry Building.  My first stop was Cowgirl Creamery, where I found a pecorino tartufato – a soft cheese with slight pieces of truffle laced throughout.  Next, I purchased Pain de Mie hamburger buns from Acme Bread, which are slightly sweet.  After picking up ground sirloin from Golden Gate Meat Company, I couldn’t help myself from stopping by Far West Fungi to take a peek at their truffle selection. 

Recalling what my chef friend told me, I didn’t want to invest in a large Italian truffle but I also didn’t want to rely exclusively on truffle oil to flavor my burger.  I settled on a small black summer truffle from Oregon, which has a paler flesh and less pronounced aroma than pricier truffles.  I added the coarsely chopped truffle to the ground sirloin, and let the combination rest for a few hours to let the flavors marry.

The end-result of my truffle-fueled adventure was exceptionally delicious.  The delicate truffle combined with peppery arugula and hearty meat was a hit with my guests.  To compliment the flavors, I served the burger with sweet potato fries and a sriracha aioli (mayonaisse, sriracha, lemon extract).  Though this meal isn’t exactly “casual” it is incredibly easy to make, making it perfect for weeknight dinner parties with good wine and even better company.  xx tt  

Recipe – Makes 4 burgers

Burger Ingredients

·  1.5 pounds ground sirloin

·  2 eggs

·  1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

·  1/8 cup steak sauce

·  2 teaspoons kosher salt

·  2 teaspoons pepper

·  1 1-2 inch black summer truffle

·  Quarter-stick unsalted butter

·  Hamburger buns

·  Pecorino Tartufato (or any truffle cheese you like)

·  Arugula

·  Black truffle oil

Burger Instructions

·  Coarsely chop truffle

·  Place meat, eggs, truffle, steak sauce, bread crumbs, salt, pepper in a large bowl and combine

·  Form into patties, and cover with plastic wrap for a few hours to let the truffle perfume the meat

·  When ready to cook, heat a stove-top grill pan on high for five minutes until extremely hot

·  Place a sliver of butter on each burger

·  Cook burgers for four minutes each side for medium

·  Place slices of the truffle cheese on each burger, and let melt

·  Take off heat and cover with tented aluminum foil (so that cheese doesn’t stick to foil)

·  Meanwhile, lightly toast hamburger buns in the same pan used for burgers and toss arugula in truffle oil

Truffle Aioli Ingredients

·  1/2 cup mayonnaise 

·  1 tablespoon black truffle oil

·  1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

·   1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Truffle Aioli  Instructions

·  Combine all ingredients in a small bowl with a fork

·  Slather on toasted hamburger buns


toolBOX: no need for a charcoal barbecue to whip up these delicious burgers, use this indoor grill pan instead

t+tLITERATURE: pick up a copy of Taming the Truffle: The History, Lore, and Science of the Ultimate Mushroom to learn more about the evocative delicacy


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