Photos by Emily Caruso
If you haven't heard of duxelles before, get ready to meet your new favorite condiment—well, if you're a mushroom lover, at least. Duxelles is a mixture of finely chopped mushrooms, shallots and herbs sautéed in butter or olive oil. There are lots of variations of it with different types of mushrooms, some with wine and some without, some recipes that have a bit of texture (which I prefer) and some that process the mushrooms almost to a paste.
My duxelles recipe is an adaptation of Martha Stewart's version. I use cremini mushrooms because they're affordable like white mushrooms, but they have a deeper flavor. I also add a splash of dry sherry because I'm a big believer in cooking mushrooms with wine. Just do it! You won't regret it! A lot of people won't cook with wine because they don't drink wine; I don't either, but it's so worth it. Just buy a cheap-but-not-too-cheap bottle, use what you need, and freeze the rest to use in future recipes. (Yes, you can totally freeze wine for cooking.)
So what can you do with duxelles? All kinds of delicious things! It will keep in the fridge for a week or so and it can be frozen for a few months. I love it as a savory topping for veggie burgers, tossing it with roasted potatoes, spooning it over roasted asparagus, or using it as a spread on crusty French bread or crackers. Another great way to use it is on a grilled cheese. Just about any cheese you like or have on hand will work, but for this one, I used an über-melty morel and leek monterey jack cheese that I picked up in Wisconsin. The duxelles adds a meaty, savory flavor to an otherwise ordinary grilled cheese sandwich.
For the duxelles:
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup finely chopped shallot
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the sandwiches:
- 8 slices sturdy sandwich bread
- 4 ounces herbed or flavored jack cheese I used Morel & Leek Jack
- Softened butter
To make the duxelles:
- Trim the stem ends from the mushrooms. Place ⅓ of the mushrooms in the largest bowl of a food processor fitted with the S-blade. Pulse until finely chopped and transfer the chopped mushrooms to a bowl; repeat with remaining mushrooms in 2 more batches. The mushrooms should have some texture to them—don't process them down to a paste! (Alternately, you can use a chef's knife to chop the mushrooms.)
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until softened, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and a pinch or two of salt. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have released their liquid, about 7 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium-high to cook off the remaining liquid; once the liquid has evaporated, after about 3 minutes, add the sherry to the skillet. Stir and continue to cook until the sherry evaporates and the skillet is dry. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
To make the sandwiches:
- Heat a large griddle over medium heat. Butter one side of four slices of bread; place the buttered side of the bread onto the griddle. Divide half of the cheese onto the slices of bread, then spoon the duxelles over the cheese, top the duxelles with the remaining cheese and slices of bread. Butter the tops of the sandwiches.
- Once the bottom of the sandwich is golden brown carefully flip the sandwiches over and cook until that side is also golden brown (about 5 minutes on each side). Transfer to plates and serve.