~Duxelles: Rich, Refined Mouthwatering Mushrooms~
Mushroom duxelles. To a mushroom lover like me, this is the crème de la crème of mushroom preparations -- the earthy caviar of my fungi food world. Each time I prepare it, I pay homage to the French for their meticulous attention to culinary detail. Without duxelles, my Veal Orloff, Beef Wellington and Coquilles St. Jacques would be ordinary veal, beef and seafood dishes.
With duxelles on-hand in my refrigerator, I can change an unpretentious piece of toasted bread or a scrambled egg into a fine-dining experience. It enhances many of my sauces and gravies, and, soups and stews too. I enjoy it tossed it into plain vegetables, pasta or rice, and, also use it as a foil (a bed) or a topper for fish, seafood, poultry, porcine or meat. There's more: It can be formed, wrapped and frozen to slice and use like compound butter. The list goes on.
A bit about duxelles (dook-SEHL): "Considered easy to prepare", it's a mixture of finely-chopped (minced) mushrooms, shallot or onion, sometimes garlic and herbs that are slowly cooked in butter until it takes on the form of a nicely-browned creamy paste. Cream is sometimes added as well, and, cream is a preference of mine. Any type of cultivated or wild mushrooms can be used, as long as they are fresh, and chefs choose which ones to use depending upon the depth of flavor they hope to achieve. Created by the 17th Century French chef Francois Pierre La Varenne and named after his employer, Nickolas Chalon du Blé, marquis d'Uxelles, they were originally used as stuffings and savory pastry fillings. While "considered easy", because it relies on evaporation to thicken it and concentrate the flavor (the longer you cook it, the better it gets), the cooking time is a bit lengthy. I, however, have an easier, stress-free method of making it.
4 tablespoons salted butter
1 pound crimini mushroom caps, sliced into 1/4"-thick strips (about 6 cups)
4 ounces shallots, or, diced yellow or sweet onion (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup dry sherry
3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
6 4"-5" fresh thyme sprigs
freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, to taste
~ Step 2. Add the mushrooms and lightly season with salt and pepper. I use 20 and 30 coarse grinds respectively. Increase heat to medium-high and sauté for 9 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, leaving all of the liquid remain in the skillet.
~Step 3. Return the still hot skillet to the heated stovetop. Add onions and garlic. Cook until onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Add sherry, and using a spatula, deglaze pan by scraping browned bits from bottom of skillet. Continue to cook for about 30-60 seconds.
~ Step 4. Add the cream and the thyme sprigs and adjust heat to simmer gently, until nicely thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste (I use 30 and 60 coarse grinds respectively).
~ Step 5. Add all of the cream mixture, including the thyme sprigs to the food processor containing the sauteed mushrooms. Process the mushrooms and cream mixture to a pasty mix of small mushroom bits using a series of 15-20 rapid on-off pulses, stopping to scrape down the sides of the work bowl with a rubber spatula about half way through the process. You will have about 2 cups of duxelles.
Want a ~ Meatless Mushroom Duxelles & Gruyère Crostini ~?
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 12" nonstick skillet; large spoon; food processor; rubber spatula
Cook's Note: Now that you have some mushroom duxelles on-hand and ready-to-use, there is no time like the present to try ~ My Love Affair with: Individual Beef Wellingtons ~. Check out my post for ~ Some Beef Wellington Facts & Some Fiction too ~. Both posts are in Categories 3, 11 & 26.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)