Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Extending the life of mushrooms

I've been studying up on some classic French techniques in Jacques Pépin's Complete Techniques in order to better prepare myself for RestoX, and I came across a duxelle of mushrooms.
I had never heard of duxelles (the name originated from the boss of a famous French chef François Pierre La Varenne, who came from d'Uxelles), but apparently it's one of the staples of classic French cooking. And according to Mark Bittman, it's a great way to salvage less-than-perfect mushrooms in your fridge or just the unused stems of mushrooms.

This incredibly simple sautée of mushrooms and just a few staple ingredients right from your pantry can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for 1-2 months (a Chowhound article cleverly suggests freezing them in ice cube trays). There are endless possibilities with duxelles. You can toss them into your omelets, soups, or risotto, slather onto toast, or stuff them into something like lasagna, pastry dough, or ravioli. Just make sure to season them well after they're cooked, my guess is in order to prevent force-sweating the mushrooms.

I realized too late that duxelles are not the most appetizing things to photograph. It looks a bit like dog food, but it's quite yummy. And I can now add this to my growing stock of food that can be preserved for months. A comforting thought indeed. When the time comes, I think I will top some grilled bruschetta with it, along with some good ricotta.

Here I provide Mark Bittman's recipe, witch is just the simplified version of Jacques Pépin's.

Recipe: Duxelles
Adapted from How to Cook Everything
3 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
1/4 minced shallots, scallions or onion
About 1lb mushrooms (preferably an assortment) finely chopped*
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. As the foam beins to subside, stir in the shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, 3-5 minutes.

2. Stir in the mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, until they've given up most of their juices. Turn the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring, until almost all the liquid has evaporated.

3. Remove from heat and season well with salt and pepper. Use immediately or store in refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for 1-2 months.

*By hand or with a food processor


Rander said...

Would you mind sharing some of your thoughts, opinions, advice for someone in similar shoes as you 3 years ago? I see you're no longer a cook? Would you mind sharing why?

Sorry I did not see this comment until now.

I'll post something on my blog and you can check it out in a week or so.