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French cuisine is known for its many different delicate yet exotic dishes. Duxelles, a mixture of shallots and mushrooms, is one flavorful component of French cooking. The finely chopped, seasoned combination is usually prepared to make stuffings and sauces.
Traditionally, duxelles is sautéed in a butter and herb mixture. Composed of shallots, mushrooms or mushroom stems, and onions, it is usually in the form of a paste or cream. Depending on the recipe and desired flavor, any type of nonpoisonous wild or cultivated mushroom can be used when creating the cream. In addition to being used to stuff meats, vegetables, and other dishes, it is sometimes served as a garnish.
For a bold flavor, chefs may opt to use wild porcini mushrooms. A cook intent on creating a mild flavor may cook sauté with white or brown mushrooms. Whichever type of mushroom is used, it will usually be a fresh rather than dried variety.
Minced mushroom duxelles is considered easy to prepare. The total time required to dry the mushrooms and sauté them, along with the minced onions, scallions, and a bit of salt and pepper, is 30 minutes. Once the mixture is golden brown and tender, it should be shaped into a butter stick, wrapped snugly in aluminum foil, and stored in the freezer.
Small pats can be sliced off for cooking, allowing the remaining mixture to stay cool and preserved for future use. Other herbs, such as parsley, may be added to taste while cooking if desired. Some chefs add other unique elements, such as bits of ham, soy sauce, or a small amount of wine.
Beef Wellington is one dish that often calls for duxelles in its recipe. Flank steak, pork chops, chicken, and veal can be flavored by being roasted or sautéed with the paste. Tasty tarts, similar to hand-held pies, can be made by baking a pastry filled with the mushroom mixture.
Stews and soups, such as chicken mushroom soup, can be flavored with the paste. It is also a useful binding agent in many different recipes, such as casserole dishes. Other popular favorite uses for the cream include using it as a pastry or bread spread, adding it to an omelet, or using it in stir-fry recipes.
Duxelles gets its name from the marquis d'Uxelles, Nicolas Chalon du Blé. During the 17th century, François Pierre La Varenne, a French chef, created the recipe. He opted to name it after his employer, the marquis.