How to make Mushroom Duxelle Filled Tortellini

Italian traditional tortellini pasta isolated on white background.. The shape needed for a mushroom duxelle filled tortellini.
Copyright: topntp

Tortellini is a typical filled pasta. Like ravioli it lends itself to a variety of fillings.  One of the best fillings possible is a mushroom duxelle which is combination of finely chopped mushrooms and shallots with herbs such as rosemary and thyme. It was named after the Marquis d’Uxelles. You might often encounter this as the cover for a Beef Wellington. In it’s own right it makes for a spread on Melba Toast and crackers.

The recipe featured on the BBC’s Masterchef The Professionals (UK) in series 13 episode 1 as one of the first of Monica Galetti‘s skills tests in that series. As a recipe it tests the chef’s skills in preparing a pasta dough which is typically thin enough for a filled pasta as well as creating the right tortellini shape. It is also a good test for preparing a flavoursome filling by treating wild mushrooms properly both in prepping through high quality chopping and cooking, and in sauce selection – all under the constraints of an awesome 25 minute time pressure.

Prepping The Mushrooms 

Wild mushrooms are probably a necessity and combinations are often used. A punnet of wild mushrooms will include chestnut, crimini, porcini, shiitake and even white button mushrooms. In preparing the mushrooms for cooking, cut off any scraggy ends of the stems which may contain dirt or hard pieces. Use a wet brush to remove any clinging dirt. The other approach is to dunk all the mushrooms contained in a colander or sieve in a large bowl of cold water for no more than a few seconds and try and remove as much loose dirt as possible. Leave to dry these on a dry tea towel and inspect for dirt. There is nothing a worse than the taste and grittiness of the field in any filling. Fresh forest mushrooms. Assorted porcini, boletus, russula, blusher, oak leaves, strawberries. Old wood plank background, close up

One of the key features is to make sure as much moisture is removed as possible from the mushrooms in making the duxelle. It needs to be removed during the preparation and the cooking of the fungi. The filling will be unpleasantly soggy if it is too moist as a filling especially in the tortellini.

The star of the show is the mushroom so any other ingredients especially the addition of the onion needs to be minimal. That’s why shallot is preferred to the onion.

The mushroom and shallot filling needs to be cool enough so that when it fills the tortellini it does not cause the pasta to disintegrate during cooking/boiling.

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Equipment:

Ingredients For Mushroom Duxelle filled Tortellini:

  • pasta dough – see the article on how to make fresh pasta.
  • 4oz./15g mix of wild mushrooms

  • 4oz./15g white button mushrooms

  • ¼ cup/50g shallots ( 2 large ones should be enough)

  • 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme and rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • a tablespoon of single cream.
  • salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • ¼ cup/30g dry vermouth, sherry, or white wine

  • 1 tsp yeast extract

Preparation:

The Mushroom Duxelle

  1. Prepare all the mushrooms for the dish by inspecting them, cleaning them of dirt. Use a damp brush to remove any dust and soil. Try to minimise the amount of water the mushrooms will receive. Discard the stems if you are not satisfied with their quality and appearance.
  2. Take the white button  mushrooms, slice thinly then chop again to make fragments as small as possible. You could use a food processor with a sharp blade but don’t overprocess. The pieces need to be like large granules of about 1/8th inch. 
  3. Peel the shallots and finely chop them.
  4. Heat a 10 inch skillet or frying pan on a medium heat and add the butter to melt. 
  5. Add the mushrooms and shallots with the herbs, a pinch of salt and pepper when the butter has just melted and cook with stirring. Add a small amount of cream which helps to bind the paste together better. The intention is to drive off the moisture without burning. When the mushrooms start releasing their moisture then turn the heat down low and stir from time to time. Cook to a point where they look like they’ve formed a paste which may seem too dry but frankly it isn’t!
  6. Allow the cooked mushrooms to cool for 5 minutes before they fill the pasta. One of the best ways is to rest a bowl in a larger one containing ice and water. 

The Tortellini Pasta

  1. Whilst the duxelle is cooling, the pasta dough should now be rolled. The method for making the pasta is described elsewhere. Normally this would be made before any other steps were started. It would be covered in clingfilm to keep it moist and ideally sitting in a cool bowl. Roll the dough to create a very thin sheet which you can see your hand through.
  2. To make the tortellini shape, use a circular cookie or dough cutter of either 3″ or 4″ thick. The bigger the shape the more filling but don’t overfill otherwise it just squirts out when cooked.
  3. Having created the sheet, cut as many rounds as possible. Collect up the scraps and reuse by rolling the dough through again.
  4. Place a heaped teaspoon of the filling which should now be cold into the middle of each round.
  5. Dipping your finger into a bowl of cold water, run it along half the edge of the pasta. Fold the pasta over to create a half-moon.  
  6. Press the edges together tightly without forcing the filling out. Try to avoid trapping air in the seal. Bring the two corners together to form a round bonnet-shape with a wide brim. Push the filled and bulging part in a little.
  7. Place the filled tortellini on a well-floured surface and cover with a towel.
  8. To cook the tortellini, bring a large pot of water to boil and add a few teaspoons of salt. Place the tortellini in the water just a few at a time using a slotted spoon. Try to avoid the tortellini from sticking to each other and the pot by giving a stir. The tortellini is ready when they float to the surface which is between 2 and 3 minutes.

The Sauce: A Wild Mushroom Butter Sauce

  1. Prepare the wild mushrooms as discussed earlier. These do not need finely chopping but can be roughly pulled apart.
  2. Add a couple of knobs of butter to a skillet or pan and allow to foam without colouring.
  3. Add the chopped mushrooms and begin cooking. Some vermouth or white wine wouldn’t come amiss at this point and a teaspoon of yeast extract can also be added to enhance the umami flavour. Cook for a few minutes in the juice to soften the mushrooms. 
  4. Add the cooked pasta to the cooking sauce in the pan to allow the flavours to infuse.
  5. Take some sauce with a spoon and ladle into a pasta bowl and add the cooked pasta. Cover with any remaining sauce using a spoon.
  6. Garnish by sprinkling the whole dish with chopped chives.
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