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. Stuffing Mushrooms

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Ingredients

  • Stuffing Mushrooms

Details

Servings 1

Preparation

Step 1

It's easy to develop a mutual admiration relationship with mushrooms. You stuff them, then let them stuff you. Common store mushrooms are perfect receptacles for a variety of foodstuffs such as onions, tomatoes, greens, meat, or chopped mushroom stems enhanced with butter, herbs, or spices.

The simplest mode of preparation is to remove the stem from the cap or use hollow-capped species such as morels. Stuff them, and bake. They don't last long as party food, and they will contribute complements and compliments for your main course at dinner.

Use medium- to large-sized caps: medium for hors d'oeuvres and appetizers, large ones for main dishes. Select very firm mushrooms with broad stems and unopened caps that will hold more stuffing.

Clean the tops and stems with a soft brush and a little water. Drain for 15 to 30 minutes in a colander. Remove any debris from the stems, and freshen up the cut end of the stem by trimming.

Gently twist off the stems of gilled mushrooms. You may need to use the end of a knife to encourage the stem to leave. Remove the cottony veil from common store mushrooms and their relatives. Don't fail to incorporate these fragments and the stems in the stuffing.

Prepare the caps by brushing them with soft or melted butter. This will sear the surface of the mushroom when heated and will help it hold its shape. Another way of firming them up is to brush them with butter and broil them cavity-side down under a preheated broiler for 5 minutes before being filled.

Stuffing material should be partially or completely precooked and ready for placement as soon as the caps have been prepared. Spoon the stuffing into the hollowed portion of the caps, press the material down tightly, and move the caps onto your baking surface. Mushrooms release a good deal of liquid when heated, so it is best to use a shallow baking pan or a jelly roll pan, which has raised edges, to retain the juices. It is advisable to fill them before placing them on the baking pan, since you want your mushrooms to have a neat appearance. And the pan will be much easier to clean.

Baking or broiling time will vary according to the size of the cap and the nature of the filling. It is best to start with a preheated oven. Keep your eye on your achievements, allowing them to brown without burning. Serve them immediately.

Mushroom varieties other than the common store ones may be stuffed, such as:

• Boletus Edulis (Cèpes Or Porcini): Large caps may be prepared as small pizzas. Serve stuffed boletes alongside your meat or fish dish; they may be filled with a wide variety of foods appropriate to the entree. The superb full flavor of this mushroom's juice blends with any stuffing to make it unique and rich.

• Agaricus Augustus (The Prince): One of the best mushrooms for stuffing because it is usually large and the cap forms a deep bowl. The strong, sweet almond flavor exuding from the prince adds an exotic quality to whatever ingredients you select to stuff it with, such as sautéed chopped stems cooked with minced garlic, bread crumbs, fresh tomatoes, and soy sauce. The special princely flavor filters through all the ingredients.

• Morels: These were designed by nature for stuffing. Fill their hollow interiors with mixtures of ground beef, bacon, lamb, crab, or simply browned onions, bread crumbs, and parsley. Any stuffing will feature the morel's fabulous aftertaste.

• Shiitakes: This is the finest of the cultivated mushrooms. Asian recipes frequently recommend steaming them when they are filled. Dry shiitakes should be reconstituted for 20 minutes in hot water before using.

• Matsutakes: Expensive to buy and rare to find, a large stuffed matsutake could be the vegetable for a large dinner party. You might want to marinate it with soy sauce and dry sherry for 20 minutes. Remove the stem and use it chopped with pork or chicken, moistened with the marinade. Brush the cap with peanut oil. Fill and grill or bake in a hot oven until brown. Small matsutakes can be stuffed by making a cut in the cap and spreading the opening enough to place stuffing inside. They are very attractive served with steamed vegetables.

You will find suggestions for other stuffing mixtures in the sections on specific mushrooms.

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