The one and only mushroom duxelles. This is one of the oldest, most traditional, and especially useful recipes for preserving mushrooms there is along with simply drying, and mushroom catsup/ketchup. At it’s heart its really just a finely chopped, concentrated mushroom base-nothing too crazy. It’s a lot more though. Duxelles is a mother ingredient, one that you can use as the base for an endless amount of recipes.
Duxelles is usually made from fresh mushrooms
The recipe here is for fresh mushrooms, not dried. Even though many dried mushrooms can be reconstituted in liquid and keep a lot of flavor, that flavor dissipates a bit into the reconstituting liquid, and it’s not exactly the same as using fresh, also, some dried mushrooms concentrated into duxelles can develop bitter notes. That being said, I do dry a lot of mushrooms, and I do make duxelles from dried mushrooms. See a separate example of that here.
Some mushrooms too, like hedgehogs and golden chanterelles I don’t dry, since their flavor is damaged and changed by the process, for those two species in particular, you will want to use only freshly picked mushrooms to make your duxelles.
In this recipe, I’m using hedgehog mushrooms, which are an underdog that kind of live in the shadow of their more well known cousins-various species of golden chanterelle. I use them here for a reason though: hedgehogs really shine in a preparation like this with their rich, meaty flavor, and yield a killer duxelles.
Why make it?
From a preservation standpoint, one great benefit is that they can be frozen without losing quality. Blanching mushrooms in salt water and freezing is doable, but it is not my first choice for preservation. Most mushrooms react negatively to freezing, and they tend to get stringy and chewy. When made into duxelles, cooked down with fat and seasonings though, they preserve way better.
The higher quality of preservation is due to the fact that the mushrooms don’t have to hold their shape since they are minced finely, bypassing the stringy, chewy texture that some get post freezing. Also they are cooked with butter means that they get protected by an insulating layer of fat, which wards off freezer burn.
I should metion though, that immature boletes that have not yet spored may be frozen, and they preserve very well like this. Thousands of pounds of porcini are processed this way and sold to restaurants around the U.S. and Europe every year from China, usually under the label “IQF” porcini. (Individually-Quick-Frozen)
- Duxelles are an instant stuffing, mix them with a touch of ricotta cheese for ravioli filling, or just all by themselves, for a very rich stuffing, such as in a type of pasta where only tiny amounts of filling are used, as with tortellini.
- Gravies and any savory sauce are a natural place to add a tablespoon or two of duxelles, they will thicken it slightly, and allow a sauce to be further thickened by adding a tbsp or two of butter.
- Spread on toast, duxelles make a fine appetizer, kind of like a mushroom tapenade.
- If you add a little bit of oil and some vinegar to taste, you have an instant, powerful mushroom vinaigrette.
- A little dollop makes a great garnish, maybe swirled in a cream of mushroom soup, or something earthy, like a soup made from potatoes or root vegetables.
- To create some mushroom dumplings, you could add 1/4 cup of duxelles to my recipe for puffball Parisienne gnocchi here, just omit the puffball powder
- Whisk duxelles into eggs for an omelet for a special breakfast
Classic Wild Mushroom Duxelles
- Chef knife or food processor
- 1 lb fresh wild mushrooms cleaned caps and stems roughly chopped.
- 1 Tbsp shallot diced ¼ inch or chopped roughly
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ Teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp oil
- ¼ cup dry sherry optional, dry white wine can be substituted
- extra virgin
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
- Finely chop the mushrooms by hand, or pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until they're finely chopped, but be careful not to over-process them. Traditionally you would chop them by hand, and it will give the best texture.
- Heat a large saute pan with the oil. Heat the pan until hot, then add the mushrooms and shallots, and stir to coat with the oil.
- Add the salt, pepper and the herbs. Continue to cook, lowering the heat to medium to prevent scorching. Cook the mixture for ten minutes, until the mushrooms have given up their water and the pan starts to look dry.
- Continue to cook until the mixture is lightly browned, and the flavor gets nutty and rich. Add a little extra oil if the pan threatens to dry out. Deglaze the pan with the sherry, then cook off the liquid again until the pan is dry, stirring the pan to coat the mushrooms with the juices. Cool the duxelles, then pack into a container and freeze, or refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Heres a couple examples of how you might use these.