[55] Stuffed Shitake Mushrooms (Actually Portabellas)

Cover of Simply Organic, by Jesse Ziff Cool

As you are all aware at this point, Bill had a birthday recently. This was one of the many (okay, four) recipes concocted that day, and one of only two I’d planned to make earlier than the day before.

Actually, it’s kind of funny. I’ve mentioned a couple of times on this blog that try to plan out our menu about a week in advance, coinciding with our CSA delivery, and trying to take advantage of what I’ve seen at the farmers’ markets and expect to still be able to get my hands on. This meal plan started as just a day to have these mushrooms and the onions. Then we had to move it a couple of times.

Then I forgot it was Bill’s birthday. Not ON his birthday, thankfully! But I planned out our menu and completely spaced that his birthday was that Friday, and plunked this meal plan down for that day (rather than planning to take him out someplace he’d love; bet if I’d gotten Topolo reservations I would have remembered).

Then I invited Rob over to share the mushrooms and onions. Only then did I realize we were planning for Bill’s birthday. While it would be funny to tell you I remembered because Rob reminded me, in fact I simply remembered. So, of course, I immediately asked Bill if he wanted to reschedule and go out.

“But that (meal) sounds really good…”

That was music to my ears. So we went in the complete opposite direction. We invited Rob and Tony and Krysti over for a game of Arkham Horror, and I cooked up a storm. Tony and Krysti don’t like “large mushrooms”, so these became a side dish (along with the onions) to a vat of pasta carbonara, which everyone enjoyed.

h2. Ingredients

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (THAT I GREW MYSELF!)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 lb large-capped shitake or portabella mushrooms

1 small onion

1 small red bell pepper

2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

1/4 c dry red wine

3/4 c dry bread crumbs or finely crumbled fresh bread crumbs

1 1/2 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese

h2. Instructions

Lightly oil the grill rack or a rack that fits in a baking dish. If grilling, make some medium level heat, okay? If baking, preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, garlic, basil, salt & black pepper to make a marinade. Reserve 2 tbsp of this marinade.

Remove the stems from the mushroom caps and dice. Put them in a small bowl with the pine nuts, onion and bell pepper. Then use a spoon to scrape & discard the mushroom gills from the caps. Put the caps in the bowl of marinade and toss to coat.

Warm the reserved marinade in a skillet over medium heat. Then add the onion mixture and cook until soft (~3 min). Add the wine and continue to cook for another 3 – 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, add the bread crumbs, and mix until well combined.

Place the mushroom caps stem side down on the grill or baking rack. Grill/bake for 3 minutes, then remove the caps to a platter and fill generously with the stuffing. Sprinkle cheese on each one, then return to the grill or oven, stuffed side up. Grill for 5 – 8 minutes, or bake until they are warm and the cheese is browned. (And delicious.)

h2. Cooking and Consumption Notes

h3. Cooking

This was actually a touch tricky to make, but I think it would get easier each time you did it. The actual instructions were a bit hard to follow in places, and I’ve cleaned them up a touch to reflect that and my experience making these things.

Consider making double the marinade. I did not feel there was enough marinade after the removal of the 2 tbsp to cook the stuffing.

Make sure you get mushrooms you can actually stuff. I had some beautiful and large portabellas, but they were basically flat. So we didn’t have “stuffed” mushrooms so much as “mushrooms with some stuff piled atop them.” While still tasty, it makes for potential kitchen disasters when you pull the mushrooms out of the oven and somehow one of them sends its “stuffing” flying.

Also, just in the interests of giving you all a glimpse into my kitchen, let me tell you about the wine. The other day we made “these”:http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/08/portobello-prosciutto-burgers/ portabella burgers, which calls for soaking the mushrooms in some red wine. It took a LOT of wine for us to feel the mushrooms were sufficiently covered to soak, and there was a lot leftover. Not wanting to drink mushroom wine, but also not wanting to waste that much wine (around 1 3/4 cups), I decided to freeze it in a plastic baggie. Which made making this recipe so much easier, as I had wine that was already ready.

Of course, it did take away my excuse to open a bottle of red, so maybe it wasn’t the most brilliant plan I’ve ever had.

h3. Consumption

Well, Tony and Krysti didn’t have any. Rob and Bill and I all liked them just fine. However, no one was terribly impressed.

If we had a star system rating, this would get a solid 3 or 3.5, I’d say. Tasty, but not amazing. A touch complicated, but still doable in a weeknight. Fun to do, so might be good for kids, but then you have to have kids who’ll eat mushrooms.

I do, however, strongly suggest finding something to substitute for the pine nuts. Not because they were a poor compliment to the meal, they were fine. They just weren’t a very oomphy part of the meal; I could barely taste them, even though they were toasted. Once upon a time, this may have been fine, but pine nuts are QUITE expensive right now, at least in Chicago. While I’m not against spending for the sake of flavor, and even using just a small amount of something for it’s flavor punch, this had no punch. And at $30/lb, I just don’t see the point of tossing them in without it. Go for almonds or something. Yes, that’s an extremely different flavor, but I think the nuts are more about adding crunch than adding flavor.

One super positive about this is that, if you have leftover stuffing, it’s really easy to throw this together again for a second time, and it works just as well. Just save the leftover stuffing in the fridge and use in a couple of days (or, at least, that’s how we did it). I’d imagine the stuffing could be frozen as well, and maybe that’s the best way to go about using any extras. It’s always nice to have “fast food” in the freezer.