Makes 2 cups
Duxelles is a paste made from cooking finely chopped mushrooms and onions in butter or olive oil until the liquids evaporate and mushroom flavor concentrates. It’s an ingredient to use in other dishes rather than something to serve on its own. Duxelles is terrific for using up stem ends, soggy mushrooms, and the good bits and pieces of wild mushrooms left after you’ve cut out insect invaders. I’ve tried chopping mushrooms for duxelles in a food processor; the finished product is superior when mushrooms are hand-chopped.
The flesh of several Alaskan boletes, including Leccinum alaskanum and Leccinum versipelle, discolor significantly when cut. The discoloration doesn’t affect flavor, but isn’t attractive. Deep red port added to duxelles made from Leccinum species masks any discoloration. (For plain wild mushroom duxelles, see variation below.)
Duxelles freeze well. I like keeping them in the freezer to add to winter sauces for an impressive umami-filled flavor boost. To freeze, put no more than one cup duxelles in a quart-sized zip lock bag, suck out air, seal bag, and press duxelles into a flat, even layer. With a thin layer of duxelles, you can break off only the amount needed for a recipe, leaving the rest frozen in the bag.
1/ 2 cup butter
3 cups diced onions, 1/8” dice
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and cut in 1/8” dice
2 cups port
Melt butter in pan large enough to hold all ingredients. Sauté onions, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, in butter until onions soften. Stir in mushrooms and cook until they begin to release their liquid. Stir in port. Cook, stirring regularly to prevent mushrooms from sticking to pan’s bottom, until liquid has evaporated. By the cooking time’s end, you need to stir almost continuously to prevent sticking and burning. Remove pan from burner and let cool. Use immediately or pack and freeze.
Variation – Plain Wild Mushroom Duxelles: Make as above but without the port (or substitute dry white wine for port).