Some of my culinary school classes started at 5:30 in the morning. By the time I got to school, many of the chefs and teaching assistants had already been hard at work for an hour or more, prepping the food needed for the day’s service at the student-run restaurant. The hardest part of those early classes wasn’t actually waking up before dawn. It was the smells I encountered when I walked in.
You see, I’m pretty sensitive to smells in general (my husband calls me a “super sniffer”), but especially in the morning. When I was in the baking and pastry classes, it was no problem – who doesn’t want to take a whiff of freshly baked croissants? But for the savory classes, some days I would saunter in and be hit with an aroma of roasted veal bones, poached garlic and smoked salmon. At 5:30 in the AM. It was enough to make me want to throw down my chef’s coat and run back to my car.
However, there was one savory smell that I couldn’t get enough of, no matter what time of day – the aroma of mushroom duxelles (pronounced “dook-SELL”). Duxelles is a classic French mixture of minced mushrooms, shallots and garlic cooked in butter, and finished with wine and cream. It has an incredibly deep, earthy flavor and aroma that is intoxicating. It’s sometimes used to add rich flavor to soups and sauces, but is primarily used as a stuffing – you can stuff chicken breasts with it, or wrap puff pastry around it for an appetizer. Making it was one of my favorite things to do in school.
One of my favorite cheeses to use for a fancy grilled cheese sandwich is nutty and salty Gruyere. And since mushrooms are a natural flavor pairing for Gruyere, it was time to fill my house with the lovely aroma of duxelles!
I used my food processor (highly recommended) to chop up the mushrooms, shallots and garlic nice and tiny. I sautéed them in butter, and finished them with some cream and Gallo Family Vineyards Pinot Grigio. The notes of citrus from the wine added a nice counterpoint to the earthy richness of the mushrooms.
I slathered this glorious duxelle onto some crusty bread, and piled it with some in-season asparagus and slices of gruyere. I toasted the sandwiches in a skillet until everything was warmed through and the cheese was oozingly melty.
Use the Gallo store locator to find a bottle of this Pinot Grigio for yourself, grab some mushrooms, and enjoy the smells! Also, be sure to connect with Gallo Family Vineyards on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 shallots, peeled and halved
- 12 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp towel; halved
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons Gallo Family Vineyards Pinot Grigio
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 12 medium asparagus spears, ends trimmed; cut crosswise in half
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 8 slices crusty bread
- 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place garlic, shallots and mushrooms in food processor and pulse until everything is very finely chopped. In medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add mushroom mixture; season with salt and pepper. Cook 20 to 22 minutes or until mixture is browned and all moisture is evaporated; stirring frequently. Stir in wine and cream; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, place asparagus on rimmed baking pan and lightly spray with cooking spray. Transfer to oven and roast 5 minutes or until just barely tender.
- Spread 4 slices of bread with mushroom mixture. Divide asparagus and cheese over mushroom mixture; top with remaining bread slices. Lightly spray large nonstick skillet or griddle with cooking spray; place sandwiches in cold skillet. Turn on stove for medium heat. Cook 6 minutes or until toasted; flip sandwiches and cook an additional 4 minutes or until both sides are toasted and cheese is melted.