Stuffed Mushrooms

[For those wondering about TWD, we were given freedom to post any time this week so I hope to get my chestnut cake up by Friday.]

Have I mentioned that I’m a procrastinator? Here it is almost midnight on Tuesday and I still haven’t decided what I’m making for Thanksgiving. I won’t be hosting (huge sigh of relief!) but I plan to bring a few desserts to Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday at my mom’s house and I bet she’d like to know what I’m planning to make. I do my best work under pressure – frankly, pressure seems to be the only thing that motivates me to get things done – so hopefully I’ll figure it out tomorrow and get going in the kitchen.

In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about the Thanksgiving we celebrated this past weekend. Every year for the past 4 or 5 years, we’ve gotten together with our friends and had a huge potluck Thanksgiving dinner. It’s one of the few times each year we can all get together and I think we all look forward to it. Good food, good friends – what more could we ask for?

Stuffed Mushrooms

One of the funny things about our “friend” Thanksgiving this year was that two of us saw Ina Garten (otherwise known as The Barefoot Contessa) make these sausage-stuffed mushrooms on her show about a week before the dinner and both decided we might want to make them. I kept going back and forth about whether I should try them because some of the reviews on the Food Network site were less than favorable (describing the mushrooms as greasy, heavy and tasteless). In the end, it seemed enough of our friends were excited about them to at least try so that’s just what I did.

I actually wound up making these twice – sort of. The first time I made them, I had a lot of filling left over so I popped it in the fridge and filled some more mushrooms another day. My first attempt was successful from a taste perspective, but unfortunately, I did think the mushrooms were a bit more greasy than I’d like. Most of our friends told me they liked those mushrooms but I wondered if they could be improved. The mushroom caps are marinated in a combination of olive oil and Marsala (or sherry) while the filling is prepared and I wondered if that step was part of the problem so on my second attempt, I skipped it. When I pulled the mushrooms from the oven, they were once again greasy so marinating the caps probably isn’t the issue. I wish I could tell you I made them a third time to try other fixes, but I haven’t had a chance yet. They really do have great flavor so I will make them again and next time I think I’ll either try using a turkey sausage for the filling or if I use a regular sausage, I’ll drain most of the fat off after browning the sausage.

Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms
from Ina Garten (via FoodNetwork.com)

16 extra-large white mushrooms
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons Marsala wine or medium sherry
3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
6 scallions, white and green parts, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
5 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them finely. Place the mushroom caps in a shallow bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and Marsala (or sherry). Set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it’s completely browned. Add the chopped mushroom stems and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the scallions and garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the panko crumbs, stirring to combine evenly with all the other ingredients. Finally, swirl in the mascarpone and continue cooking until the mascarpone has melted and made the sausage mixture creamy. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cool slightly.

Fill each mushroom generously with the sausage mixture. Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish large enough to hold all the mushrooms in a snug single layer. Bake until the stuffing is browned and crusty, about 50 minutes (keep an eye on them – they may be done sooner than 50 minutes).