Mushroom Duxelle

by leah

Duxelle is the first thing you learn at cookery school – it’s just mushrooms minced and cooked to a rich paste. It involves a lot of chopping, and chopping is the first thing you learn too. But the upshot is that it’s ridiculously delicious. It’s a very old fashioned French way of serving mushroom, when chopping things to a fine mince was all the rage. Nowadays we roughly slice, or tear into rustic chunks, but nothing is ever diced into a fine meal. This dish is a segue into some culinary preachery I am about to do.

It’s called: Get Some Skill With Your Knife. Knife skills are important so I made a list why:

  1. Being fast with a knife cuts your preparation time in half.
  2. Being skilled with a knife saves you money on pre-filleted and jointed meats and fish.
  3. Being consistent with a knife gives you more control over how your food looks and how it cooks.
  4. You’ll cut yourself waaay less.
  5. You can get rid of half of the ridiculous single use contraptions sitting in your gadget drawer. Including the horrible and dangerous mandoline. I hate those things – so many chefs seem to have a hard on for them, but they cause so many injuries.
  6. Knife skills have the best ease to impressiveness ratio of any skill I’ve ever acquired. People will watch you brunoise-ing onions with their jaws on the floor.

I am a firm believer in creating original content so I am not going to add to the plethora of knife skills tutorial videos on the web. Go forth to a YouTube, learn the techniques, making sure you include sharpening and honing your knives. Then practice with this delicious mushroom duxelle, a pile of carrots and a bag of onions. Soon you will be julienning and brunoiseing and finely chopping your little heart out, while your friends and family watch you, all agog. As an aside, don’t rush out and buy fancy knives. Just sharpen the ones you’ve got. If you don’t have any – you need a paring knife and a chefs knife (I like the santoku shape) and a honer. Don’t buy a set, they just take up space and the block is a nice place for cockroaches and bugs to set up house.

Duxelle Pasta – Serves 3-4 for lunch

  • 15-20 Brown mushrooms (use button if that’s all you have – brown has better flavour)
  • 2 medium eschallots
  • Handful of parsley
  • 60g butter

To serve: Cooked pasta, some cream or sour cream.

If you’re serving with pasta, put the water on now. Remember to add enough salt so the pasta water is salty like the sea.

Take your mushrooms and slice them as finely as you can. Then with a rocking motion, chop them until they are as small as you can make them (I was in a hurry with this particular duxelle so my chunks are a little big). Brunoise the shallots (this means 2mm pieces) I also give mine a bit more chopping after dicing so it’s really fine. Repeat with the parsley. This will take time, be patient – the smaller your chopped bits, the better the duxelle will be.

Put your pasta on to cook if you haven’t already.

Melt half the butter in  a generous sized pan and wait until it’s foaming. Sweat the shallots for a couple of minutes then add the mushroom. Add some salt for it’s moisture sucking properties. Sweat until the bubbling noise turns to a sizzling noise – this means all the moisture is gone. Taste and season vigorously, you’ll need lots of salt and pepper.

Take the pan off the heat and toss the pasta, parsley, extra butter and cream through. I like to serve mine with sour cream dobbed on top rather than mixed through.

Duxelle can also be used as a stuffing, a topping for roasts, it’s used in beef wellington between the pastry and beef, as a dip, as a base for soup. Or my favourite – simply dumped on a piece of buttered toast and enjoyed out of hand. Savour the simple deep mushroominess!