With New Year’s parties coming up, it’s time to corral all your favorite appetizer recipes and decide which ones will make the cut this year. (OK, yes, I know I am terribly late with this post. Mea culpa! But this is an easy appetizer and your last minute efforts will be richly rewarded, I promise.)
If you’re planning a standing-room-only cocktail party, tasty tidbits that can be finished off in one or two bites are de riqueur. Since there are only 1-2 bites to each tidbit, those bites must SING. Which means big, bold, memorable flavors that keep all of your senses awake and wanting more.
Messy, watery, bland appetizers are not what you want. Which brings us to our topic today: stuffed mushrooms. I adore them, but too often, they are anything but memorable, and yes, messy, watery, and bland.
Before we get to the featured recipe, let’s review a few tips for stuffed mushrooms in general.
Stuffed Mushrooms Tips & Tricks
- Always start with FRESH mushrooms. The caps should be tightly closed. The mushrooms should be dry and have no pungent smell.
- Coat the stemmed mushrooms with melted butter or olive oil before stuffing for an attractive finish.
- Salt the cavity of the mushrooms before stuffing.
- Stuffing should be generously seasoned and pack a flavor wallop. The over-the-top flavor hit from the stuffing will balance the more subtle flavor of the mushrooms.
- Use the mushroom stems in the stuffing. Why waste that extra bit of mushroom goodness?
- Do not cover mushrooms while baking. Give the excess moisture a chance to evaporate.
- Broil, rather than bake, stuffed mushrooms. This results in a firmer mushroom, without the usual wetness issue.
- Crimini mushrooms are a bit firmer than white mushrooms and thus hold up better during baking. I highly recommend.
- For the most attractive stuffing mounds, use a small, release-style scoop to make balls of stuffing.
- Stuffing must be moist enough to hold together when pressed with your fingers, but not soggy wet.
- Cook only the mushrooms you plan to eat immediately. The remainder will keep for a day or more in the frig, uncooked and well wrapped.
- There is no need to hollow out the mushrooms after removing the stem. A good amount of stuffing should retain a mounded shape nestled in the shallow indent.
- Serve stuffed mushrooms immediately after removing from the oven.
- Always serve stuffed mushrooms with plenty of cocktail napkins.
Spicy Sausage and Fresh Herb-Stuffed Crimini Mushrooms
These zingy, spicy stuffed mushrooms are perfect for passing at cocktail parties, and also make a lovely light supper with a simply dressed green salad.
Crimini mushrooms hold their shape better than white mushrooms and broiling rather than baking ensures a firm, yet tender mushroom cap. The stuffing is all about the sausage, so be sure to get the best available.
1 pound small Crimini mushrooms, cleaned and ends trimmed (about 30 mushrooms)
1 tablespoons cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, peeled, and minced or pressed
½ pound loose Italian sausage
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
½ serrano chile, minced
¼ cup minced green onion
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs (combination of sage, thyme and rosemary)
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan
1 cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup chicken stock (and more as needed)
2 tablespoons cream
fine sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Remove and chop the stems of the mushrooms. Reserve.
- In a mixing bowl, toss the stemmed mushrooms with 1 tablespoon olive oil and lemon juice. Let macerate while preparing the stuffing.
- In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic until tender but not browned, about 15 minutes.
- Add the sausage and continue sautéing while breaking up the sausage into small bits with the back of a wooden spoon.
- When the sausage is well browned and cooked through, add the chopped mushrooms and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with vinegar. Increase the heat if necessary to evaporate almost all of the vinegar.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sausage mixture, lemon zest, Serrano chile, green onion, parsley, fresh herbs, and Parmesan, and mix well.
- Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Mixture should taste a bit over seasoned to compensate for the mildness of the mushrooms.
- Let cool somewhat and then add the bread crumbs, stock, and cream. Fluff with a large fork to evenly distribute the liquid. Test the mixture to determine if it will hold together (just barely) when squeezed between your fingers. If it is too dry, add a little more stock, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture is malleable. Don’t add too much liquid, however, or the stuffing will be soggy after broiling.
- Arrange the mushroom caps on an edged baking sheet. Grind salt and pepper over the tops and into the indents.
- Using a small release-style scoop or spoon, fashion balls of stuffing, and press them firmly into the mushroom cap indents.
- Cover the mushrooms with plastic wrap, and frig until ready to serve.
- To serve, remove the plastic wrap and broil for about 15 minutes, until hot through and blistered on top.
- Arrange on a serving platter and serve immediately with plenty of cocktail napkins.
Serves 10-15 as an appetizer or 4-6 as a main course.
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Copyright 2012 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.