Stuffed Mushroom Caps

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BentRecipe_040815AStuffed Mushroom Caps are the perfect appetizer: You can assemble them beforehand so that when guests arrive, you are front and center. Now that April is here, it’s a lot easier to get fresh blue crabmeat, which is the ideal ingredient for stuffing. However, guests also enjoy these mushrooms stuffed with lobster and salmon. For those, I use more delicate herbs, such as dill or the smallest pinch of tarragon. King and snow crab, of course, are great substitutes, as well, and taste best with parsley.

Stuffed Mushroom Caps
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large shallots, finely chopped
2 pounds large white mushrooms, caps and stems separated (reserve caps and pulse stems in a food processor until finely minced)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup torn day-old bread, soaked in 2 tablespoons water or dry white wine
½ pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated (also delicious with lobster and salmon), or substitute brie or Gruyère (for a fancy taste)
1 pound fresh backfin blue crabmeat (don’t use expensive crabmeat, it will be shredded—
even claw meat works), or
substitute lobster or salmon
(see note below)

Place rack in the middle of oven and heat to 375 degrees. In a medium skillet over medium heat, slick the skillet with the olive oil. Add butter, shallots, minced mushroom stems, thyme and salt. Sauté until the shallots are translucent and the stems have released their juices, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a medium bowl. Add soaked bread, cheese and crabmeat. Mix gently until well combined.
Meanwhile, wipe off the mushroom caps with a damp paper towel and place them in a large bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and steam mushrooms in the microwave on high for about 2 minutes, stirring once. (Timing will vary according to the wattage of your oven. Steam them until they’re just slightly tender—they’ll finish cooking in the oven.) Transfer the mushrooms to several layers of paper towel and let drain.
Arrange the steamed mushroom caps, hollow side up, on a sheet pan. Stuff them with a nice mound of crabmeat stuffing. Don’t pack the filling too tightly. Bake the stuffed mushrooms for about 15 minutes, or until the filling is golden brown. Serve immediately, but take care, these can be quite hot inside.
Note: If you would like to try lobster (as pictured) or salmon, both must be cooked prior to use. Lobster also needs to be shredded into smaller pieces. A steamed one-pound lobster should be sufficient. Avoid using canned salmon, it’s far better to get a small, fresh piece and pan fry it for three minutes on each side until opaque, then flake through it. Prepare with lobster and salmon as instructed above.

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