Chances are, you've heard the buzz about truffles. They're incredibly flavorful and highly prized for what they add to even the simplest dishes. It's true that truffles are an expensive food, but cooking with them is extremely rewarding to both the cook and the diner!
If you can find (and afford) them, fresh truffles are best. Shaving or grating the truffle into your food will give you the freshest, richest flavor. If you can't find fresh truffles, truffle oil offers an exceptional alternative that won't cost much to experience. One small bottle of truffle oil can last years!
When using truffles, always keep in mind that the flavor of the truffle shouldn't be buried in the food. Truffles have an earthy flavor unmatched by anything else; hiding the truffle in something with a powerful flavor is generally a bad idea. Keep it simple, and let the truffle be the star of the show.
Truffles also don't mix well with acidic recipes; acid in food will cause the delicate flavor of the truffle to diminish. Truffles generally pair well with fatty foods, especially dairy; try adding some truffle oil to your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe, or your everyday mashed potatoes. The depth of flavor truffles add is remarkable!
Try truffles with everyday foods you love -- pizza, pasta, salads, and soups -- and you'll love how the deep, complex flavor works with almost anything. Remember, though, fresh truffles expire quickly and are best used within two to three days of purchase. And, always, taste the truffle you're working with before adding it to food.
Truffles come with a variety of strong flavors, and even if a truffle or bottle of truffle oil looks the same as another, it may have a completely different flavor. Try them frequently to enhance your Italian cooking!