Monday, October 19, 2009

Just in Time for the Weekend - Sausage and Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms

Before you read this post, if you need a brief escape from the world, go to youtube and search for 'Jimmy Dean Sausage complaint' (I tried to link it here but my site is being hormonal.) I was just in Texas and saw a woman walking her dogs with a braid down to her ankles stop and do 50 push ups against a rock. You don't mess with Texas. Or a Texan's sausage, apparently.

Anyway, I made these sausage-stuffed mushrooms years ago for a party, loved them, and promptly forgot all about them. It wasn't until this past week visiting family in Texas that they resurfaced again in my tiny brain. Actually, I think I 'forgot' about them on purpose because while they were delicious the first go around, they were a pain in the @$$ to make because I used little button mushrooms which made cleaning and filling them as tedious as hula hooping in a body cast. If memory serves, that was also the party where I was so flustered from running late I forgot to eat and ended up running around with my pants down at the end of the night thinking everyone had left. They hadn't.

So do yourself a favor. Do make these little crack-filled nuggets for company or to snack on during football, but only if you can find the baby bellas about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. My sister and I found them in packages of 6 at her grocery store in Texas, but of course I can't find them now that I'm back in NY (that would be too easy.) So when I make them here, I'll go through the trouble of rifling through the free range mushroom bin to find them all this size. Far less traumatizing than ending up with a gallon of sangria in my stomach and my pants around my ankles...

Sausage and Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms
(Serves 12 as an appetizer or hor douvre with a salad)

TIP: I know rinsing mushrooms is a culinary 'no-no' (it's said to make them heavy because they absorb the water.) But nothing is sadder in the entire world for a cook than biting into a wonderfully seasoned mushroom that tastes like potting soil. It gives me chills just thinking about it. So for me, I rinse the little bastards. Not for several minutes, but quickly and under hard running water to knock any clinging dirt or grit off. I then dry them off with a paper towel which gives me a chance to double check them for any garden remains. But if you want to stick with the damp towel method - more power to you.

24 (roughly 2 1/2 inch in diameter) Baby Bella mushrooms, gently and quickly rinsed, patted dry with stems removed so you can fill them
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, finely diced
3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
pinch fresh cracked black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16) package ground pork sausage, preferably Jimmy Dean or other trusted brand
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temp
1 (6 oz) tub shredded parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (just a couple shakes)
pinch red pepper flakes, or more to taste
additional 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Preheat your oven to 400.

Heat up a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil (you may need a dash more depending on how large your onion was.) Let the oil heat through for one minute, then add the onions seasoning them with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring every so often until they become translucent, about 12 minutes. Add the minced garlic, give a good stir, and cook another 3-4 minutes until softened.

Transfer the onion and garlic mixture to a large bowl. Add another dash oil to the pan and put back over medium heat. Add the sausage, breaking up with your wooden or plastic spoon and cook stirring every couple of minutes until cooked through (usually about 10 minutes but use your eyeballs and consult the package instructions.) While the sausage cooks, add the cream cheese, parmesan, parsley, nutmeg, red pepper flakes and salt to the onion and garlic mixture, stirring in well to incorporate.

Once the sausage has cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to the onion mixture (leaving excess grease behind in the pan to discard) and mix well. Set aside.

Grease two large rimmed baking sheets with non stick spray, then begin filling your mushrooms with the stuffing mixture. Use a small spoon to do so, pressing the filling in gently so that it fills up the entire cavity of the mushroom and put a hefty bit of the filling over the top, but not so much that it's falling over the sides. (You could even put additional parmesan over the tops after you're done filling them, but by this point, I'm over it:)

Place in the oven for 15 minutes, then swap the trays to allow for even cooking and cook another 8-12 minutes, until the tops are just becoming golden brown. Remove allowing to cool a couple of minutes before serving.

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