A truffle slicer is a kitchen utensil used to slice or shave truffles for use or inclusion in cooked dishes and other preparations. These items are typically designed for use with truffles, but can often be used to slice or shave a number of different foods such as vegetables, other mushrooms, cheese, and even chocolate. Most slicers are made using stainless steel and many feature a wooden, steel, or plastic handle as well as the ability to adjust the blade for thinner or thicker slices, depending on the application and desired slice size. A truffle slicer is often used by professional chefs using truffles to accentuate a dish or by home chefs using the expensive fungi.
The most common shape for a truffle slicer is for the device to have a handle to be held by one hand, and a wide head that is relatively flat. A second piece is attached to the head that acts as the blade and a truffle or other item is passed along this edge to slice or shave it. This blade can often be made adjustable by allowing the screw that attaches it to be turned, thereby changing the distance between the slicing edge and the flat head along which a truffle is passed.
Truffles are fungi that tend to grow underground, are symbiotic and grow close to particular types of plants that produce the proper root system for truffles to develop. These types of trees include oak, hazel, and pecan trees. Though some truffles can be found in the United States (US), the most expensive and prized types of truffles are white truffles from Italy and Croatia, and the Black Périgord truffles of France. The Italian and French truffles can easily sell for hundreds or thousands of US dollars for a single pound (about 450 grams).
Though a truffle slicer is primarily designed to be used to slice truffles, allowing easier thin slices or shaving of the truffles to use only small amounts in a dish, it can also be used for other foods. Cheese can be easily sliced thin for serving with fruit as an appetizer or to create large thick slices for melting in a baked casserole or similar dish. A truffle slicer can also be used to shave chocolate; creating thin, curled rolls of chocolate that often provide a delicious and visually attractive addition to desserts.
Vegetables can be sliced thin using a truffle slicer, though for more than a few slices a device such as a mandolin may be preferable for faster, easier cutting. Other types of fungus such as portobello or shiitake mushrooms can also be easily sliced or shaved using a truffle slicer. Though these are typically not as expensive as truffles, these types of mushrooms can be used in a number of different dishes and for fresh salads.