I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and were able to celebrate the holiday with those you love. We missed being with our extended families this year, but it was special to spend time together just the three of us, reflecting on our savior’s birth and sharing in good food and gift giving. Watching Eowyn open all of her presents was just as fun as I had anticipated, and so far, she appears to be quite enthralled with the grocery cart and play food we got for her…Perhaps a foodie in the making? I suppose only time will tell.
Now that Christmas has passed, my attention has turned toward the celebrations that will be happening in the upcoming weekend. New Year’s Eve parties scream “appetizers,” and for today’s post, I want to share one of my favorites.
These Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms are an excellent addition to any party spread, not only because of their scrumptious taste, but also because they’ve got some protein in them. I’ve been to my share of festive potlucks in which it seemed like there was an abundance of sweets and lighter items but also a serious lack of meat. While they come in small packages, these little bites are hearty and provide staying power to keep you going all the way till midnight.
There’s no secret ingredient or special technique that makes these mushrooms extraordinary. It’s just simple food that speaks for itself. Italian sausage packs in loads of flavor, and the cream cheese adds balance to each bite. The golden topping offers a crunchy texture that contrasts well with the tender mushrooms.
- 1 pound ground Italian sausage
- 1 8-ounce package plain cream cheese, softened
- 30 medium crimini or white button mushrooms (about 1 1/4 pounds)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Extra virgin olive oil
- In a skillet, brown the sausage over medium to medium high heat, using a spoon or spatula to break it into very small pieces (this is one of those moments I wish I owned one of these to make the job a little easier). As always, stir and move the meat around as needed, but don’t overdo it such that the meat is unable to get nice and brown. Remember, caramelization = more flavor.
- Once the meat is fully cooked, scoop it out of the pan onto a large plate lined with a couple layers of paper towels. After it is cool enough to handle, use your fingers to crumble the meat into smaller pieces if needed (the finer the better). Mix together the cream cheese with the sausage in a bowl until well combined.
- Meanwhile, rinse the mushrooms under cold water to remove the dirt and then dry thoroughly with paper towels or a clean kitchen cloth. Remove the stems and discard (or, if you are more frugal and awesome than me, you could save the stems, chop ‘em up, and throw them in your next batch of tomato meat sauce). Set the mushrooms in a 9×13 glass baking dish, stem side up, and season with salt and pepper.
- In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan cheese, Panko bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Next is assembly. Fill each mushroom cap with a heaping tablespoon of the sausage and cream cheese mixture and cover with a generous amount of the cheese and breadcrumb topping.
- Once all the mushrooms have been filled and topped, drizzle them with a little extra virgin olive oil (you could also put the oil in a misto and spray them generously). Bake for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees until the mushrooms are tender, then turn the broiler on high for 2 minutes until golden brown.
Tips and Tidbits
- If you don’t have Panko breadcrumbs, I would advise against using fine breadcrumbs and would instead encourage you to increase the amount of Parmesan cheese. Panko breadcrumbs provide a light and airy crunch, whereas finer breadcrumbs seem heavy and grainy to me and would not be a good addition to this dish.
- For convenience, I use dried oregano and parsley, but feel free to use fresh if you have it. You could also change the spice combinations, using basil, thyme, or even rosemary if desired.
- Instead of sprinkling the topping directly over the filled mushrooms, a technique that worked well for me was to dip the mushrooms into the bowl containing the topping. Then, using my fingers, I pressed the topping into the cream cheese and sausage mixture until it was fully covered. This helped maximize the amount of topping that adhered to the filling and minimized spillage in my baking pan.
- This dish is super easy to prepare ahead of time. Simply prep the mushrooms, fill them with the cream cheese and sausage mixture, and refrigerate. Add the topping right before baking (refrigerating the mushrooms with the topping may cause the breadcrumbs to become soggy). Be sure to allow for a few more minutes of baking time if they will be going into the oven cold.