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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Duxelles on French Menus. Duxelles in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
With mushroom duxelles inside the puff pastry en croute casing.

Duxelles is a five-hundred-year-old recipe of finely chopped wild mushrooms, shallots, and herbs cooked in butter.  Duxelles are one of the oldest French culinary creations and will still be on many menus though often the mushrooms are the farmed varieties. Duxelles, today with or without wild mushrooms, are still used as originally intended as a stuffing or as a garnish for egg, fish, and meat dishes. Duxelles may sometimes be helped along with wine and prepared with an added sauce. Other modern Duxelle variations will have the mushrooms replaced by vegetables or seafood; that is usually clearly noted on the menu listing

Salmon Coulibiac, Duxelles, Fine Herbs,
The traditional Coulibiac is a salmon dish prepared by layering the salmon with spinach and rice. Nevertheless, I have seen many variations on this dish, and here we have Duxelles added.
The originator of this simple but famous recipe was one of France’s earliest published chefs, Francois Pierre de La Varenne (1618 – 1678). The recipe was published in his first book Le Cuisinier François, the French cook.  La Varenne named the dish after his employer the Marquis d'Duxelles. (The Marquis d'Duxelles was Nicolas Chalon du Blé (1652 – 1730) The Marquis was also a French general and served as the French Foreign Minister).

Duxelles on French Menus:

Ballotine de Pintade Farcie à la Duxelle de Champignons - A deboned Guinea fowl stuffed with mushroom Duxelles and then roasted or braised.

Coeur de Filet Mignon Farci à la Duxelle de Chanterelles, Sauce Bercy – The heart of a pork fillet, the pork tenderloin stuffed with Duxelles made with wild chanterelle mushrooms and served with a Sauce Bercy made for meat. (There is a Sauce Bercy for fish and the Sauce Bercy noted above for meat; there is also a Beurre Bercy, a cold compound butter for meat). N.B. A French filet mignon, unless expressly indicating beef or veal is, like this menu listing, pork.

A pork chop with mushroom and black garlic Duxelles.

Filet De Bœuf Français Accompagné sur une Duxelles De Champignons, Sauce Au Foie Gras, Et Frites De Légumes Anciens.  – A cut of a French beef fillet, the tenderloin, accompanied by mushroom Duxelles served with a foie gras, a fattened duck liver sauce, and French fries made using heirloom vegetables; those vegetables would probably include Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, and  Swedes (rutabaga).
Filet de Sole en Duxelles de Crevettes – Filet of sole served with the Duxelles made with shrimps, not mushrooms. With a menu listing like this ask which of the many different soles is the one on the menu. It may be Dover Sole, the most expensive or Lemon Sole or another.
Smoked New York Strip Steak with Portobello Duxelle in a Peanut and Parsley Crust.
A New York Strip Steak in France would be a faux-filet, a cut just below the French entrecote.

Onglet De Bœuf Grillé Et Ses Zitoni Crème Brocolis Et Duxelles De Paris A flank steak or skirt steak. In the USA an onglet may also be called a London broil. Here the steak is accompanied by zitoni pasta, (zitoni is a large sized ziti tubular pasta) accompanied by creamed broccoli, and Duxelles made with button mushrooms.
Zitoni Pasta
Queue de Lotte Farcie à la Duxelles de Pleurotes, Sucs Déglacés au « Zibbibo » de Sicile -  Tail of monkfish stuffed with oyster mushroom Duxelles served with a sauce made with the cooking juices and the scrapings from the cooking dishes flavored with Zibibbo, a sweet Muscat wine from the Italian Island of Pantelleria.(The Zibbibo wine may only be made on the island of Pantelleria though it may be bottled on the island of Sicily).
Raviole de Txangurro à la Duxelle de Champignons – Ravioli stuffed with the Basque dish of Txangurro, crab meat prepared with onions, tomatoes, hot peppers, and brandy, accompanied by mushroom Duxelles. The crab meat will probably come from the Crab Tourteau, France’s most popular local crab.

Of course, a good recipe is for adapting; today the original mushrooms may be changed for another ingredient. The new ingredients may be vegetables or seafood, but they will still be finely chopped and prepared together with shallots and herbs and fried in butter. Menus that offer the traditional duxelles will note duxelles de champignons, button mushrooms, or name a particular mushroom to avoid misunderstandings. The wild mushrooms used may include The Mousseron or St. George's Mushroom, the Pleurot, the wild oyster mushroom, the Cepe, the French wild porcini mushroom, or the Morille, the Morel mushroom, among many others.
Scallop, mille-feuille of cabbage and scallop brandade.
Juices of grilled red cabbage, sauerkraut and pear duxelles, lardo.

Duxelles, a simple recipe with so much fame.

 “ A simple recipe,” you may say;  “I could have done that;” you may say; however, the fact is that none of us were around to create the recipe in 1651. Then La Varenne published this recipe in his first French cookbook: Le Cuisinier François, the French cook.  Long before cultivated mushrooms were farmed Varenne would have sent his kitchen staff out into the woods to collect the wild mushrooms he used in his recipe.  La Varenne probably turns over in his grave as his copyright has expired and his descendants cannot receive royalties

The front page of the original edition of 
Le Cuisinier François.

La Varenne’s book is still going strong with a number of French editions available at Amazon France and Amazon USA with the last edition that I saw dated 2013. English adaptations are also available. La Varenne did not leave us with one book; he published at least three more. There are disputes around his ownership of all the recipes, but it is enough to say that they allow us to look inside the French kitchen in the 17th century. 

Read the French version for free.

The French national Library website  allows the reader access to the original book free of charge and makes a small charge for downloading it.

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Bryan G. Newman
Copyright 2010,2017.
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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