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Duxelles is a finely chopped (minced) mixture of mushrooms or mushroom stems, onions, shallots and herbs sautéed in butter, and reduced to a paste (sometimes cream is used, as well). It is a basic preparation used in stuffings and sauces (notably, beef Wellington) or as a garnish. Duxelles can also be filled into a pocket of raw pastry and baked as a savory tart (similar to a hand-held pie).
Duxelles is made with any cultivated or wild mushroom, depending on the recipe. Duxelles made with wild porcini mushrooms will be much stronger flavored than that made with white or brown mushrooms.
Duxelles is said to have been created by the 17th-century French chef François Pierre La Varenne (1615–1678) and to have been named after his employer, Nicolas Chalon du Blé, marquis d'Uxelles, maréchal de France.
Many classical cook books define duxelles as dehydrated fungi, used as stuffings and pastry fillings. According to Auguste Escoffier (1847–1935), a world-renowned French chef, regarded as the father of classical cuisine, the fungi, or mushrooms, were dehydrated for the sole purpose of flavoring and minimizing the water content. Once mushrooms are cooked, they let off enormous amounts of vapor in relation to their size, which would cause pressure inside the dish or pastry if they are not dehydrated, causing it to crack, or in extreme cases as with stuffing, explode.
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