Penultimate Stuffed Mushrooms
Once the pride of my hors d’oeuvres repertoire, these almost meatless hot appetizers have won me countless compliments and immeasurable laud over the past decade. Then, a few years ago, I had one of Mrs. H’s stuffed mushrooms, and my mouth cheered while my stomach sank. Hopefully, she’ll donate her recipe within the next few posts, but this will tide you over in the meantime, since you don’t yet know what you’re missing. Mrs. H, I should mention, threw a superb Christmas party last night, and rolled out her best spread yet. Well done, Mrs. Hamilton!
24 white button mushrooms
1/4 C tbsp plain bread crumbs (bonus over-the-top points if you make your own from a stale baguette)
2 tbsp fresh grated Parmesan
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
3 anchovy fillets
1/2 tsp black pepper
Set your oven to 350. Pull and wiggle the stems out of the mushrooms, leaving each cap with a 1/4″-1/2″ cavity. Finely chop the stems and put them in a medium mixing bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, cheese, oil, vinegar, parsley and pepper, and combine well.
Mash the anchovies into a paste. You could use a fork and cutting board, or you could take the time to find that mortar and pestle you swore you couldn’t live without back in 1997 and finally remove it from its packaging. Incorporate the mashed anchovies into the mushroom mixture with your hands; they act as the only source of salt, so take care to disperse the paste thoroughly.
Pack each mushroom cap full of the mixture, forming moderate mounds on the tops. Space them at least 1″ apart on a cookie sheet, and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Test to make sure they’re hot through (eat one), and plate on something delightful from Shreve, Crump and Low, or the less ostentatious Target (French pronunciation, please).