Dec 012014
 

Italian-style Stuffed Mushrooms

I bet I’ve made these mushrooms a dozen times. They’re pretty basic, but in a good way. A simple stuffing of dry breadcrumbs, grated hard cheese and minced herbs — moistened with olive oil and the juices from the mushrooms as they cook. They’re not oozing with cheese and cream (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), so they make a good stand-up nibble — no plate and fork needed. But they also fill in nicely as a side with just about any meal. And I can easily make a meal of these alongside a simple green salad.

And not incidentally, I recently found a new way to love these — giving leftovers a rough chop and stirring them into pasta with a handful of baby arugula and an extra sprinkling of grated cheese. So delicious!

Stuffed Mushroom Penne

Pairing: Take your pick!

These are completely versatile, pairing well on their own with everything from bubbles to all but the heaviest reds. If serving as a side, match your wine to the main course. Given their versatility, I thought I’d take this opportunity to do a roundup of wines — at a variety of price points — that I’ve enjoyed lately. Here are a dozen to kick off your holiday wine-buying. Enjoy!

Blandy’s NV Madeira Sercial 5 Year Old ($24). Moderate sweetness, but with loads of balancing acidity, dried fruit, toasted nut and savory flavors that somehow combine to make a dry style. Delicious, rich, a lot of complexity for the price. A lovely aperitif wine that works with cheese and olives and nuts — and these mushrooms! Find it!

Ferrari NV Brut Rosé Trento ($37). Delicious Italian sparkler, offering lush wild strawberry, red currant and plum, citrus zest, toasted spice and light mineral notes. So easy to like, but with complexity to justify the pricetag. Find it!

Patient Cottat 2012 Sancerre Anciennes Vignes ($26). Not your everyday Sancerre, with a distinctive array of citrus, citrus zest, gooseberry, and intense herbal and pungent mineral notes. With a long, rich finish. Find it!

Domaines Schlumberger 2011 Pinot Blanc Alsace Les Princes Abbés ($14). Nice everyday white, with medium-intense apple fruit accented with cream, apricot skin and mineral notes. Find it!

Paul Blanck 2011 Pinot Blanc Alsace ($16). Kinda loved this one — served alongside a first course appetizer selection of crab cakes and these mushrooms. Just rich and aromatic enough, without being oaky or heavy. Bright lemon notes, stony minerals, snappy Asian pear. Find it!

Calera 2012 Viognier Mount Harlan ($30). Gor. Geous. Somehow voluptuous and sleek at the same time, with smooth melon, apricot, ripe pear, aromatic spice, cream, white flowers and cashew notes. Long, lush, complex finish. Should age beautifully for 5+ years, by the way. Find it!

Giguiere 2011 Chardonnay Dunnigan Hills Musque 809 ($16). From Matchbook wines, this has a creamy/yeasty/lees thing working that I really liked. Supports pretty, aromatic tropical fruit, white floral and lime notes. Rich but bright finish. Find it!

La Crema 2012 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast ($23). Good value on a showy, rich, full-bodied style — including ripe melon, pear, fig, smoky oak, vanilla and warm spice. Find it!

Coltibuono 2011 Chianti Cetamura ($10). Cheap and easy, what’s wrong with that? Light red fruit flavors — berry, cranberry, cherry — with dashes of black tea and spice. Drink up! Find it!

Shelter 2008 Pinot Noir Baden ($40). Absolutely loved this, for its wild strawberry aromas and flavors, layered with boysenberry, anise spice, and touches of mineral. Slick and sleek on the palate. Perfect for anything mushroomy! Find it!

Frei Brothers 2011 Merlot Dry Creek Valley Reserve ($20). Appealing complexity here, particularly at this price, with layers of smooth black cherry and dried plum fruit, tobacco leaf, baking spices and a touch of chocolate. Find it!

Yangarra Estate 2012 Grenache McLaren Vale Old Vine ($32). Here’s a wine to choose if you’re serving these mushrooms as a side to grilled lamb chops or something along those lines — it’s intense and concentrated, but not heavy, with slick licorice and minty notes on the full black currant and berry fruit. Very nice. Find it!

Recipe: Italian-style Stuffed Mushrooms

Makes enough stuffing for about three dozen mushrooms, depending on the size of your mushrooms!

36 medium (about 1 1/2 ” diameter) crimini mushrooms
1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 cup shredded Grana Padano cheese (or can substitute Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano)
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional oil for drizzling

Heat oven to 400F. Clean and stem mushrooms. Trim any woody bits from the stems and discard. Mince the remaining stems and place in a medium bowl. Add the other ingredients. Mixture should be crumby but moist enough to press together. Spoon into mushroom caps and arrange on a baking sheet. Drizzle each with additional olive oil. Bake 25-30 minutes, until mushrooms are tender and topping is browned and toasty. Serve warm.

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