Monday, July 30, 2007

Duxelles and Galettes

Duxelles is a finely chopped mixture of mushrooms, onions, shallots and herbs sautéed in butter. It is a basic preparation used in stuffings and sauces (notably, Beef Wellington). It is said to have been created by the 17th-century French chef François Pierre La Varenne (1615–1678) and to have been named after his employer, Nicolas Chalon du Blé, marquis d'Uxelles, maréchal de France.

Galette is a general term used in French to designate different types of round and flat crusty cakes. One noticeable type is the galette des rois (King cake) eaten on the day of Epiphany. There is a children’s song about galette:
“J’aime la galette; savez-vous comment? Quand elle est bien faite, avec du beurre dedans.” (“I like galette; do you know how? When it is made well, with butter inside.”)

Galette is also the name given in most French crêperies to savoury buckwheat crêpes, while those made from wheat flour, mostly served with a sweet filling, are simply branded “crêpes.” Crêpe is a type of thin pancake mostly associated with the region of Brittany where it replaced at times bread as basic food, but it is eaten as a dessert countrywide. Buckwheat was introduced as a crop suitable to impoverished soils, so aside from Britanny, buckwheat crêpes were known to other regions where this crop was cultivated, such as Limousin or Auvergne.

Unlike the crêpe, it is sometimes cooked on one side only. The galette is frequently garnished with egg, apple slices, meat, fish, cheese, salad or similar ingredients. One of the most popular varieties is a galette covered with grated gruyère cheese, a slice of ham and an egg, cooked on the galette. In France, this is known as a galette complète (a complete galette). A hot sausage wrapped in a galette (called a galette-saucisse, a tradition of Rennes, France) and eaten like a hot dog is becoming increasingly popular as well.

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