Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Duxelle sêche de champignons (Mushroom, chopped and cooked with shallots)

A duxelle (dook-SEHL) is a finely chopped mixture of mushrooms and shallots or onions cooked to bring out all the moisture from the mushrooms. It is used as a garnish, a stuffing, or to flavour sauces and soups. According to Mastering the Art of French Cooking, duxelle is said to have been created by La Varenne, chef of the Marquis d’Uxelles.

Since mushrooms shrink when cooked, for 1 cup of duxelle you need about 3 cups mushrooms.

Tip for cleaning mushrooms: Don't wash mushrooms. Trim off the woody parts of the stalks and save them for stocks and soups. Wipe gently with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt.

Tip for chopping mushrooms: Use two chef’s knives held together in one hand. Secure the tips of the blades with your other hand and then chop. Use a rocking motion. This limits the time the mushrooms are exposed to air and helps prevent discoloration. For a whiter duxelles, don't use the stems, only the caps.

Tip for keeping mushrooms: Use lemon juice to avoid discoloring. You can freeze duxelles be frozen for 1 to 2 months.

Recipe adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Makes about 1 cup

½ pound (about 2 cups) mushrooms, whole or just stems, finely minced
2 tablespoons shallots or green onions, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup Madeira and ¼ cup brown stock or beef stock (optional)

Clean the mushrooms and mince.

In a skillet, sauté the mushrooms and shallots or onions in butter and oil over moderately high heat, stirring frequently. After 6-8 minutes, the mushrooms should start to brown and separate from each other. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the optional wine and stock, and boil down rapidly until liquid has completely reduced.

If you're holding the mushrooms to serve later, allow to cool. Pack in a covered jar, and refrigerate or freeze.

Tasting Notes

This was one my favourite garnishes. A rich, complex flavour.

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Running total: $49.22 + $2.68 = $51.90

Butter used so far: 5½ tablespoons