Saturday, June 2, 2012

Life is not too short to stuff a mushroom

In fact stuffing a mushroom - at least, a large mushroom - takes very little time. For our joint birthday dinner, I wanted to make something I could prepare ahead of time and cook quickly just before it was wanted, so these worked perfectly.
            But I was really pleased I'd done the sensible thing and tried out the new recipe I found in the April NZ House and Garden, because I thought it needed a bit of adapting to work well. To my taste, the original stuffing  had too high a proportion of breadcrumbs, so it was very crumbly, making it hard to keep in place on the mushrooms, and the taste was a bit bland. Here's my version.

Stuffed mushrooms

8 medium portobello mushrooms - choose nice round ones with properly upturned, inward-curving edges, so the filling will stay in place more easily.
Extra virgin olive oil - enough to brush over each mushroom, inside and out
2 Tbsp butter
3 rashers streaky bacon, cut into small pieces, or the equivalent in good quality bacon pieces (I got these at Moore Wilson)
2 spring onions, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
1/2-3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs (dry ciabatta bread is good)
50-75g crumbled feta cheese (more if you want to leave out the bacon)
freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Wipe mushrooms clean with a paper towel and carefully remove the stems, without making a hole in the cap. Finely chop the stems.
Melt butter in a pan and add bacon, letting fat run a little. Add spring onions, garlic and chopped stems. Fry gently until cooked, about 5 minutes.
Stir in thyme, parsley and enough breadcrumbs to give a crumbly texture, but not so much that the bread overwhelms the other ingredients. Add crumbled feta and black pepper and mix well.
Add beaten egg and mix gently to make a moist, crumbly mixture.

You can do all this several hours in advance. Cover the filling, put the mushrooms carefully into a sturdy brown paper bag, and leave both in the fridge (mushrooms in the vege drawer) until half an hour before you want to eat them.

Heat oven to 200C. Brush mushroom caps inside and out with olive oil. Arrange them, gill side up, on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Using a small spoon, put the filling into each mushroom cap so that it makes a shallow mound. (I did a pepper as well, because one guest didn't like mushrooms.)

Bake for about 10 minutes until cooked. Serve hot.
I didn't take a good photo of the ready-to-eat mushrooms because (a) I'd had a bit to drink by then, (b) it was night time, so the light wasn't great, and (c) I was in a hurry because we wanted to eat them hot, so I only got one quick go. But you get the idea. They make a great first course, delicious and sort of substantial without being too filling. And of course you could leave out the bacon for a vegetarian version.

Ali sent me this comment about last week's post on her rillettes:
"I hope people overcome their fear of the unknown - and for their cholesterol levels - and try it. (I couldn't believe I was actually telling people to ask for more fat!) But it's not nearly as rich as some recipes, which specified large amounts of extra fat and used only the liquid fat to moisten the meat at the end, instead of the meat juices as well. I think with mine you get more of the true pork flavour."

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