On the menu: Stuffed Mushrooms
I don’t really care for mushrooms. My Momma taught me well; I still feel guilty saying “I don’t like…” in a public forum. Kevin, being the polar opposite of me on so many levels, loves mushrooms. However, my distaste for his fungal friends may be weakening. After all, we’ve cooked with them a few times. He made these stuffed mushrooms the other night. No big deal; it was just baked umami filled with sautéed umami. I could handle that…maybe? I was pretty nervous about eating them, but I was more than content to sit back and watch him cook.
He plucked the stems from the mushrooms and selected the largest 10 caps to stuff. The remaining mushroom pieces were briefly sautéed with shallot, garlic, breadcrumbs, herbs, and some walnuts. Once cooked down a bit, it all went into our wee food processor. After a few pulses, the stuffing was ready to go. Each mushroom cap was piled high with what I had affectionately termed “umami goo” (delicious, right? I told you, I was nervous) and topped with small heaps of Parmesan cheese. Into the oven they went.
Now, the mushrooms didn’t have to cook for very long, but we were quite hungry at this point. I glanced at the leftover stuffing (I mean, umami goo) sitting in the food processor and had an idea. I gave the stuffing a few more pulses, and voilà! Mushroom pâté. I gave it a try, and since the mushrooms hadn’t been cooked to death, it was quite good. In fact, it was rather fresh and clean, with just the right amount of complex earthiness. I got out some crackers and we dug in to our impromptu appetizer.
The stuffed mushrooms came out of the oven. We plated them up and sat down at the table. With a slight grimace, I picked one up and took one bite. Then another. And then my eyes lit up and I said “Oh, wow. These are so good!” The mushroom caps were warm and juicy, but they still had heft to them. They had a toothsome bite that I couldn’t get enough of. The stuffing was rich and earthy with freshness from the shallot and a bit of brightness from the Parmesan. Kevin and I demolished the lot of them in no time.
Here’s the thing: I think I might actually like mushrooms these days. I just have so many awful memories of eating them as a child, and said memories have led to an intrinsic apprehension of eating them as an adult. It’s kind of comical, but for maturity’s sake, I do hope I get over it soon.
adapted from the Joy of Cooking
1 pound button mushrooms (we used Baby Bellas)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon dry vermouth
1 tablespoon heavy cream (you can substitute more vermouth here)
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel. Remove stems from mushroom caps and reserve 10-14 of the largest caps. Toss the caps with 2 tablespoons olive oil, arrange them on a baking sheet, and set aside. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Chop up the remaining caps and the stems. Add them to the skillet along with the shallot, garlic, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes before adding breadcrumbs, walnuts, chives, vermouth, and cream. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse until the mushrooms are coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fill each mushroom cap with a heaping tablespoon of the stuffing, then sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for 7-8 minutes, until the tops begin to brown.