Duxelles (pronounced “duhk-SEHL”) is a classic French preparation made from finely chopped mushrooms, onions or shallots, and often garlic, cooked together with butter and herbs. It is used as a flavorful and versatile ingredient in a variety of dishes, including sauces, soups, and stuffings. It is particularly well-known as an essential component in the traditional Beef Wellington recipe. The origins of Duxelles can be traced back to the 17th century and are attributed to the French chef François La Varenne, who named the dish after his employer, the Marquis d’Uxelles.
The key to a delicious Duxelles lies in the proper cooking technique and the combination of flavors. By slowly cooking the ingredients, the flavors meld and intensify, creating a rich and earthy mixture that enhances the overall taste of the dish it is incorporated into.
Recipe for Duxelles:
- 1 lb (450g) fresh mushrooms (white button, cremini, or a mix of wild mushrooms)
- 1 medium onion or 2-3 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine or dry sherry (optional)
- Clean the mushrooms by gently brushing off any dirt or debris with a damp paper towel. Do not rinse them, as this will cause them to absorb water and become soggy. Remove the stems and finely chop the mushroom caps. If you prefer a finer texture, you can use a food processor to pulse the mushrooms, but be careful not to over-process them.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onions or shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. If you are using garlic, add it at this point and cook for an additional 1 minute, or until fragrant.
- Add the chopped mushrooms to the skillet, and cook, stirring frequently, until they have released their moisture, about 10-12 minutes. The mushrooms should be cooked down and most of the liquid evaporated.
- Stir in the parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. If you’re using white wine or sherry, add it now and cook for another 2-3 minutes, allowing the alcohol to evaporate and the flavors to meld.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Remove the skillet from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Your Duxelles is now ready to use in a variety of recipes.
Duxelles can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. Use it to enhance the flavor of dishes such as Beef Wellington, stuffed mushrooms, omelettes, or pasta sauces. Its rich and earthy taste adds depth and complexity to any recipe it is added to.