Duxelles: You need these in your freezer pantry, you just may not know it yet, a Bjouxs Basics that may be incorporated in so many dishes to impart that woodsy, rustic, and earthy flavor element. Pizza with Duxelles, Fennel, Fontina and Black Truffle Oil serves as my first Anatomy of a Recipe post –breaking down the elements of a little jewel.
Duxelles (pronounced dook-SEL, the most frequent pronunciation I have heard) are rooted in classic French cuisine. Simply put, finely diced mushrooms are sautéed with butter, shallots, wine, and sometimes a bit of cream and herbs.
This Bijouxs Basic is simple to prepare, you can be flexible by adding different varieties of mushrooms and here I have used dried wild mushrooms to intensify the earthy flavor. Duxelles freeze well; they are ready to be pulled into kitchen action at anytime. Although duxelles are rather humble looking, they serve as a rich addition to omelets, a topping for fish or chicken, an addition to steamed vegetables, or as a topping on pizza or crostini.
I have stood tall with the recipe from Julia Child all these years, adding different herbs or maybe a bit of cream from time to time, but here is the one important step that Julia shares with you that other duxelles recipes may not: after chopping the mushrooms she instructs you to wring them in a dish towel and squeeze out the excess liquid. (Not so pretty, but thank goodness for my Ikea 49 cent dishtowels that I love – no worry, the majority of the stain washes out, just immediately plunge the towels in soapy water.) As you see by how much liquid was extracted, without this little step you may have a batch of steamed duxelles.
Bijouxs are crafted from a variety of information, sources and experiences. As you start to build and layer on the Bijouxs Basics, factoring in your tastes and experiences, you will begin to create your own unique little jewels.
Anatomy of a Recipe breaks down the steps of how my favorite Pizza with Duxelles, Fennel, Fontina and Black Truffle Oil recipe came to be over a period of many years. 1) Duxelles – I first learned to cook these watching Julia Child & Company (yes, the original airing on PBS, my accompanying book in hand, of course) 2) then I took a bread class with Nancy Silverton, loving her pizza dough recipe 3) a trip to Italy tasting Porchetta with Fennel and finally 4) travel to Provence, truffles, truffles still on my mind! This “recipe” is a culmination of food-life events that have lead to creating my favorite pizza, built upon layers of tastes and experiences; a Bijouxs was born.
This favorite pizza utilizes duxelles, a Bijouxs Basics. Begin with a pound of pizza dough, rolled to the shape of your choice, spread with a little garlic flavored olive oil, then top with the with mushroom duxelles, maybe some fresh sautéed mushrooms, sprinkle with toasted fennel seeds, a teaspoon of jarred red cherry peppers minced and top with grated Fontina cheese. Bake the pizza in a 500° degree oven on a pizza stone or sheet pan for about 10-15 minutes until crisp and cheese is bubbling and brown. Finish with a drizzle of truffle oil.
I began many years ago by cooking humble mushroom duxelles, frantically scribbling notes while Julia instructed, then not knowing where this simple basic would lead…so where will duxelles or another Bijouxs Basics lead you? Little jewels crafted from the Bijouxs Basics.