Ree's Stuffed Mushrooms
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1 8oz package cream cheese
2 small or 1 large onion, minced
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
½ small bell pepper, whatever color you prefer, minced
1/3 lb Italian sausage, browned and crumbled (or 2 “links” if you can’t find the bulk sausage)
6-10 strips bacon, browned and minced
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup Panko or plain bread crumbs
* Wash your mushrooms! Don’t drown them or leave them sitting in water, but definitely wash them…unless you like eating manure. I dump all mine together into my largest colander and run water over them, making sure they all get washed, then leave them in the colander a few minutes to drain well. Give them a toss now and again to get all the water back out. 5-10 mins draining time should be sufficient.
*Set your cream cheese out to warm up…you need to have it mix-able
* Brown your sausage. If you’re like me and you use the “brat” style sausages, grill or bake them (skins removed) until very done, to render out most of the fat. Cool and run through your food processor (or dice fine with a knife, but…I mean, really!…work smart, not hard).
*Stem your roomies….I find that the easiest way is to hold the cap in one hand and grab the stem with the other, then work the stem in a circle applying even pressure until it breaks loose from the cap. If you have one that doesn’t cooperate, dig out the stem with a knife…you need that cavity for stuffing! I find it very handy to throw the stems into a big bowl, and drop the caps into a gallon zip-top bag, which I get into the fridge as soon as I’m done stemming. This seems to keep the caps from getting too soft on me. Then I reuse the bag for filling the caps.
* Cook your bacon, too, while you’re at it…I bake mine…I have a “bacon day” a couple times a year. I buy about 10 pounds worth and bake off sheet pans of bacon, which I then cool, bag up in fold-over sammie bags and slip into a big freezer zip-top bag. Viola! Real bacon whenever I want—nukes in 45-90 seconds, straight from the freezer, and costs way less than the “ready-to-eat” stuff that tastes like smoked cardboard. Run it through the food processor/chopper when it’s cool (or after it defrosts on the counter a few minutes, if you’re using frozen).
Well…sort of. First, grab your sheet pan and line it with a Silpat (or foil or parchment paper, or whatever you prefer to prevent sticking and make cleanup easy), and turn your oven on (400 degrees), if you’re planning on eating these now.
* Line up all the things you’re going to fill your caps with: onions, pepper, garlic, stems, sausage, bacon, cream cheese, egg, and toppers.
*Get your bag of caps out of the fridge and place them all, cavity side up, on your sheet pan. If you don’t have enough caps to fill your pan, keep them crowded together in one end, so they’re easier to fill & top.
*Once the bag is empty, fill it back up with your veg, cream cheese, egg, and meat. Seal off the top, and squish to combine. Squish a LOT…you want a nice mix so every bite is balanced. You can also mix it in a bowl first and then transfer it to the bag—your choice. You’re looking for a “devilled egg filling” consistency. If it’s too thick, add some chicken stock or water, 1 tablespoon at a time—don’t go overboard, because we want to be able to pipe this out. Once you’re happy with your mix and it’s all in the bag, pick a corner and cut about ½” off of it—instant piping bag.
*Pipe all the filling into the caps, piling up the filling into a peak on each cap.
*Top each peak with a double pinch of parm shreds, and don’t fret if some falls off. If I had to make a guess, I’d say I use about a teaspoon of parm maximum per cap, but of course some are big and some are small—add cheese until it looks yummy
*Go back over each cap and sprinkle on some Panko (or plain bread crumbs if that’s more your style). I buy the Parmesan Herb Panko at K**g*r because it addS sooooooooo much flavor, but use your favorite kind.
Choice 1: Slide the pan into your oven that has been preheating to 400 degrees. Wait 20-30 minutes or until the topping gets brown and you can’t take it any more, then scarf on them!
Choice 2: Set the sheet pan into the freezer for 30 mins or so to firm up the topping. Pull them back out when they’re set up and divide into however many portions you want to cook at once. I allow no less than 4 per person. Either put them into aluminum foil pans and cover, or wrap gently in foil. Stash them in the freezer (well marked, please) and when you want a tasty side for any meal, pull one out and plop it into your 400 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the topping browns nicely. Enjoy!
PS: Thank you, Ree Drummond!!!