Our American cuisine has a pretty bad reputation here in France. Most of the French believe that our diet consists entirely of industrially produced foodstuff that impart essentially no nutritional value. I wouldn’t say that they are entirely wrong, as evidenced by the increasingly high rates of obesity in the US. Nevertheless, many American dishes still figure prominently on my list of favorite foods, stuffed mushrooms being one of them.
This dish brings me all the way back to my days as a Bruin in sunny Los Angeles, CA. With a penchant for all things rich and creamy during my college years, I often made this dish for myself and my roommates. I don’t remember what the original recipe was, so I threw together what I thought would taste good. In the past, I had put chopped bacon and a significantly larger quantity of butter into the dish. I wanted something a little lighter though, so I only added a dab of butter, just enough to perfume the stuffing mixture while sautéing the onions. The added cayenne pepper also gives it a nice kick, while the panko imparts a little bit of texture.
My husband and I went a little too produce happy at the open market on Saturday, but we need to quickly finish everything since we are heading to Brussels for a long weekend. With such a beautiful bag of champignons de paris (cremini mushrooms), I wanted to do something a little different yesterday. When we get mushrooms, I usually just sauté them with some olive oil and shallots and eat them with a salad. But this was a nice change. Even my husband liked them, and he rarely indulges in savory dishes containing cream or dairy products. I could have eaten the whole batch, but I thought better of it.
500 g cremini mushrooms
1 large onion, diced finely
165 g cream cheese
1/4 tspn cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, to taste
a dab of butter
panko bread crumbs
1. Clean the mushrooms and carefully remove the stem. Roughly chop the stems and place them into a food processor to further chop them finely. Place the mushroom caps on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.
2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Heat the butter and some olive oil over medium-high heat in a sauté pan. Add the diced onions and sauté them until translucent.
3. Add the finely chopped mushroom stems and stir for a couple of minutes. Season with some salt and pepper.
4. Once the stems are cooked, add the cream cheese and stir until smooth. Then add the cayenne pepper and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
5. Fill the mushroom caps with the mixture and sprinkle with some panko breadcrumbs.
6. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or so. During the last couple of minutes, up the oven temperature to 400°F to give the top a nice, golden color.