i just returned from my yearly trek to the desert to hear some good music with 80,000 other crazy peeps. this year it was 105 degrees in the shade! yikes! before we left, there was a herculean effort to be made to eat up the big bucket o’ ramps we harvested from our secret mountainside. there was gnudi of course, there was pie (made with 1 very large bunch) my favorite risotto, and ramp greens sauteed simply, in olive oil and butter, tossed with a bit of egg tagliatelle and quite a few strong grinds of black pepper. unlike last year when i ended up with greens to use up after i pickled all those bottoms, this year i ended up with an excess of bottoms that had to be used.
i’ve always imagined duxelles to be the french country womans’ way to preserve wild mushrooms in the lucky instance upon harvesting a field-a-plenty. basically, it’s mushrooms cooked down until there is nary a drop of moisture left in them. and most often times shallots, onions or leeks are added. although my mushrooms came from a local grower i did find myself, the night before my early morning flight to the desert, with an excess of wild ramp bottoms in need of preserving.
ramp & mushroom duxelles
- 2 lbs mixed mushrooms, chopped very fine*
1 heaping cup of chopped ramp bottoms
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
more salt & pepper to taste
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- yield: approximately 1 & 1/2 pints
- heat butter in a very large** wide bottom pan, when melted add chopped ramps. with the heat on low, sauté the ramps until they become translucent. do not brown.
- add chopped mushrooms and salt. sauté on medium-high heat allowing the mushrooms to brown and release their juices. turn down the heat and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mixture becomes dry. approximately 20 minutes.
- add sherry vinegar and salt & pepper to taste.
after cooling completely, i scooped them into small jam jars and put them in the freezer to save for later. duxelles freeze nicely for up to 3 months and are perfect to have around for an easy appetizer. serve straight up on slices of toasted baguette. add a little chopped fresh parsley or thyme, or stir in a few tablespoons of fresh cream just before serving. you could slather a bit of soft chévre in between baguette and duxelles, pair it with a crisp white, and call it dinner. i did.
but don’t stop there! a little jar popped out of the freezer will add a tremendous amount of umami to an impromptu pasta sauce, omelette, frittata, or a pressed sandwich with a mound of greens and a thick slice of gruyére or fontina.
*when i say fine, i mean fine. chop those babies down. also, wash your mushrooms by using a few wet paper towels to wipe the dirt away. do not submerge them in water or they will act like sponges.
**this is a lot of mushrooms, in order to sear and cook down properly you need a very large pan. otherwise you will steam some of them which will create an undesirable texture. cut the recipe in half or do two batches if you have a 10 inch fry pan or smaller for best results.