Tis the Season for Cheesy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Monday, December 10, 2012

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Tis the season for holiday office parties, open houses and potlucks.  And that means food, people.  Food, food, and more food!   While cookies are usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Holiday treats, there’s more to party eats than that.  After all, man (or woman) cannot live by cookies alone.  We need more substantial noshes to soak up all that free-flowing mulled wine, hot buttered rum and bubbly.   We need Cheesy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms.

Stuffed mushrooms have been a staple in cocktail party cuisine at least since the early part of the 20th century.  For one thing, they are the perfect little self-contained, bite-sized party food package.  This is a highly desirable trait in a canapé. The fact that you can just pluck one off of a passing tray practically guarantees that you won’t starve as you navigate the room while juggling your cocktail, handbag and smartphone.  For another thing, mushrooms are culinary chameleons.  They don’t really taste like much on their own.  But, they have the ability to soak up the flavors of whatever ingredients they’re paired with and become one with them.  They’re also very versatile and cozy up quite well with virtually anything they’re stuffed with.    Well, maybe not Swiss buttercream.  That probably wouldn’t be good.  But hey, you never know…

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These Cheesy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms were inspired by a recipe from Ina Garten.  With a few exceptions, she makes them very much the same way that my grandmother did.  They’re made with Italian sausage, onions, garlic, Marsala wine and three different kinds of cheese.  That’s where the “cheesy” part comes in.

So, let’s make some stuffed mushrooms… 

The most commonly used mushrooms for stuffing are regular old button mushrooms.  Look for nice white ones with few blemishes or discolorations.  Try to find mushrooms that are around an inch and a half in diameter.  You want them big enough to stuff, but small enough to be easily eaten with your fingers in one or two bites.   I’ve been told that you should never wash mushrooms as they are very porous and soak up water like a sponge.  Instead, you should wipe them clean with a damp cloth or paper towel.  I’m sorry, but when I see little clods of black dirt clinging to those fungi, I need more than a damp cloth to make me feel better.  I usually give them a quick blast with my sink sprayer and then wipe them dry.  If you’re more adventurous than I, and don’t mind eating dirt, more power to you!

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Once your mushrooms are dirt free, pull out the stems and chop them up finely.  This will turn your mushroom caps into tiny little “bowls” for the sausage filling.   The chopped up stems will go into the filling.  Waste not, want not!

Since button mushrooms don’t have a lot of flavor on their own, I like to toss them with some olive oil, wine or vinegar, and a bit of salt.  The salt also helps to leach out some of the liquid lurking in the mushrooms.

While the shrooms are hanging out, it’s time to make the filling.   Remove about a pound of Italian sausage meat from its casings, crumble it up and brown it in a skillet – breaking it up into very small pieces.   I often find it hard to get the mince as small as I’d like, so I help it along by smushing the sausage meat with a potato masher.   I know it sounds weird, but it really does work.

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After the meat has browned, add some finely chopped onion and garlic, and sauté them around with the meat for a few minutes.

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Remember those finely chopped up mushroom stems?  Now is the time to add them to the skillet too.

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Now, here is where I get all fancy!  Take about a quarter cup or so of Marsala wine and pour it into the skillet.  Marsala is an Italian dessert wine that is often used in savory cooking.   Scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and let it all simmer until the wine has evaporated.   As the Marsala reduces, it will permeate the filling and give it a crazy punch of flavor.  Make sure to use real Marsala wine and not that crappy “cooking” kind found with the oils and vinegars in the supermarket. That stuff is gross!   The Marsala you want is found in the actual wine section, usually near the sherry and vermouth.

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Once the wine has evaporated, you’re going to take the skillet off the heat and swirl in some creamy, rich mascarpone.  Yes, mascarpone.  Just do it!

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And, then some panko crumbs and Parmesan and Asiago cheeses.  The panko absorbs more flavor and helps the filling hold together better.  If you’d like to make your mushrooms gluten-free, you can omit it.    I’ve made these without and honestly couldn’t tell the difference.

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Then, stuff your mushrooms and sprinkle with more cheese.  Did I mention that these are CHEESY sausage stuffed mushrooms?

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Pop them in the oven and…Ooooh!

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Don’t they look amazing?  I’m not even going to try to convince you that these mushrooms are a “healthy” dish. You can just look at the ingredient list and know that they’re not. But, they are so freakin’ delicious that your guests probably won’t care. Besides, tis the Season and all that jazz. What better time to throw caution to the wind?  Plus, I can pretty much guarantee that if you bring a tray of these beauties to your next Holiday shindig, you won’t have to go searching for the mistletoe.  It will find you!

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14 responses to Tis the Season for Cheesy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

  1. On December 10, 2012 at 12:17pm, chiara said...

    flawless recipe .. performed by thousands of Italian housewives! version “di magro” provides only within the stems of the mushrooms with parsley, garlic and a pinch of “besciamella” sauce.. finished with parmigiano of course ;) sempre brava! ;)

    • On December 10, 2012 at 2:11pm, Susan said...

      Grazie, Chiara! My grandmother used to add besciamella instead of mascarpone.

  2. On December 10, 2012 at 12:51pm, Rosa said...

    Scrumptious! Those stuffed mushrooms are wonderful.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    • On December 10, 2012 at 2:12pm, Susan said...

      Thanks, Rosa! Cheers! :)

  3. On December 10, 2012 at 2:03pm, Mushrooms Canada said...

    How perfect are these?! I’m always searching for new and delicious ways to stuff my caps and I certainly found another great one! Thanks for sharing…

    -Shannon

    • On December 10, 2012 at 2:13pm, Susan said...

      My pleasure, Shannon! So glad you like them!

  4. On December 10, 2012 at 2:57pm, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    I’ll bite – literally! Anything with cheese and sausage is for me.

  5. On December 10, 2012 at 9:23pm, Jayne said...

    I love there bite size appetizers. How many of these would i need to make to serve a party of 10?

    • On December 10, 2012 at 11:11pm, Susan said...

      It depends on what else you’re serving and whether they will be on a buffet or passed on trays. You’ll need more if they’ll be on a buffet where people can help themselves. If I’m serving several other appetizers, I’ll usually allot 3-4 pieces per person. For 10 people, you should be fine with a double batch.

  6. On December 11, 2012 at 12:10am, Vicki Bensinger said...

    Wow these do sound good. I love stuffed mushrooms and your recipe sounds heavenly. I can’t wait to make these. I’m sure they will be a hit at the next gathering. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  7. On December 11, 2012 at 1:46am, bellini said...

    Tasty little bites of heaven for the holidays Susan.

  8. On December 11, 2012 at 9:19am, Joan Nova said...

    Love the idea of marsala and marscapone (my kind of M+Ms) in the mix. I also like your crusty finish. MMMMM

    Happy holidays to you and your family.

  9. On December 11, 2012 at 8:22pm, vanillasugarblog said...

    well geez when you make them this way, wow.
    these are like super cheesy and loaded with flavor!
    (and in case you didn’t know the 55Knives is gone–website gone :-(

  10. On September 19, 2013 at 2:53pm, Phuket vacation said...

    Hi there i am kavin, itts my first occasion to commenting anyplace, when i reead this paragraph
    i thought i could also make comment due to this good piece
    of writing.

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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