Sausage Fest: Stuffed Mushrooms
(Please forgive me for the title, I couldn’t help myself…)
Are you weird about mushrooms? I know a lot of people are: they’re fungus, they have a weird texture, etc. Whatever. I love mushrooms. I must have been kind of an odd kid, eating more mushrooms than steak, begging for lots of mushrooms in my pasta sauce, eating them raw from the salad bar. I feel like 8 year olds don’t normally do that thing.
Also, as a kid, going to Red Lobster was a real treat (Look, I live in the Midwest, ok? And there were 7 of us). We would go wild, which meant ordering an appetizer to share. Invariably, I mean 100% of the time, we got their stuffed mushrooms, mainly because my dad loved them. He loves them so much that he makes them at home, apropos of nothing. Not to mention whenever a social event calls for an appetizer or finger food. Everyone in my family is crazy about stuffed mushrooms.
My pops gets his recipes from pretty much one source: the pages of our community newspaper, the Northwest Press. I think it’s pretty hilarious. Most of the recipes are things like “Almost-like-Olive-Garden Pasta e Fagoli” or “Icebox Pie.” He has two recipes for stuffed mushrooms, sausage and crab, but I only made the sausage ones this time. Come Christmastime, I’ll probably tote along both kinds to Grandma’s house, just to whet appetities before the main course of hanky-pankies.
There is not one complicated part to this dish at all, but your prep time will be reduced to literally 1 minute if you have a food processor or mini-chopper. This is a very typical Midwestern dish, uncomplicated, unfussy, and definitely not pretentious. Eat with your hands, unabashedly.
Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes
1/2lb – 1lb plain old white mushrooms (I always forget to buy 2 boxes of mushrooms so usually I just make it with 1/2lb)
1/2lb Italian sausage, removed from casings (or be a true Midwesterner, and buy the stuff in a roll)
1/2 of a small white onion
1/4 of a red bell pepper (I use an orange one because I am good at using bits and bobs in the kitchen)
2tbsp bread crumbs
3tbsp Parmesan cheese (I used the real stuff but what my niece calls “shaker cheese” is okay too)
extra cheese for sprinkling (very optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Put the Italian sausage in a pan and begin to brown while you do steps 2 and 3.
2. Rub the dirt off the mushrooms, and separate the stems from the caps. Set the stems aside. Put the caps in a little baking dish.
3. Put the mushroom caps and veggies in the food processor/mini-chopper. I will mention here that I usually only put half of the mushroom caps in, because they’re just filler and I want more of the good stuff. Blitz that all together until it makes a kind of thick paste.
4. Toss the veggie-mushroom paste in with the browning meat, along with dashes of salt and pepper. Cook til the sausage is browned.
5. Remove from heat, throw in the bread crumbs and cheese, and stir together.
6. Now this is kinda messy: fill the mushroom caps with the sausage mixture. You can use a spoon to start, but you’ll have to tamp it down with your fingers. Since I used basically half the mushrooms but didn’t halve the rest of the recipe, my mushrooms were really piled high.
7. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with some mozzarella cheese or Parmesan cheese in the last 5 minutes. Let sit for ~5 minutes before serving.
They aren’t very photogenic, but dang are they yummy. Plan on 2-3 mushrooms/person conservatively. Usually I eat like 6 of them and call it a meal.