A quick Google search or a leaf through a cookbook will turn up dozens of recipes for stuffed mushrooms. As delicious and wine friendly as they can be,  I’m always a little reluctant to make them because of the time it takes.   With that in mind,  in a similar style,  I came up with the idea for going big and “topping” portobello mushrooms.  It seems a more rewarding dish for the effort.   These make a great first course as part a more elegant dinner,  or along with a salad,  they can easily double as an entree for a lighter dinner. 

Either way, they’re easy to make and delicious.  Plus, they can be easily made ahead of time and held for hours in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake them.  

Sausage Topped Portobello Mushrooms

(this makes enough to top 8 mushrooms)

1 pound sweet sausage meat, no casings
1 sweet vidalia onion
2 carrots
2 ribs celery
3 cloves garlic 
2 eggs
1 handful seasoned panko breadcrumbs
Crushed red pepper to taste
Salt & Pepper
Balsamic Reduction
Parmigiano Cheese 

Peel and chop the onions, carrots, and celery into very large pieces.  Add the whole garlic and combine in a blender or food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.   Saute the vegetable in olive oil until well softened. Season with salt and pepper.   Remove from the pan.  Add the sausage to the pan and cook through breaking the meat into small pieces if needed.  Once cooked through, combine with the vegetables and set aside.

~ These are the mushrooms with the topping completed.   I made these about 3-4 hours ahead of time and held them in the refrigerator ~

Once the vegetables and sausage are cooled,  add the panko breadcrumbs, a pinch of red pepper flakes and the eggs and stir to combine.  Note:  The mixture has to be cooled before you add the eggs or they will scramble!  Remove the stems from the mushrooms and discard. Drizzle a bit of olive oil onto the cap and top with the stuffing mixture.  You can refrigerate for several hours at this point if desired.  

Set your oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes until the topping turns a golden brown and the mushrooms are cooked.  You’ll be able to tell if the mushrooms are done just by looking at them.  Remove from the oven,  drizzle with the balsamic reduction glaze, sprinkle with parmeggiano cheese and serve immediately.   You can garnish with parsley or basil if you like. 

~ The finished mushrooms ~

As I mentioned at the outset,  I used these as first course appetizers while we lazily hung around the kitchen island.  While almost any medium bodied red wine will work well with these,  we chose a refreshing, frizzante Lambrusco with great success.   The 2013 Opera “02” Lambrusco is a dark plummy red.   The slight carbonation is exactly what the label suggests:  “Amabile”.   Refreshing as hell, this has aromas of plum, spice and flowers.  On the palate it’s vibrant with wonderfully crisp red plum flavors, a hint of minerality and just a happy feeling from the bubbles!  Slightly off dry, this was great with dried soppresatta and the mushrooms but it will easily marry with spicy barbecued ribs or burgers as we approach peak grilling season.   Really pretty.  88 points and a wonderful steal around $15.   Americans need to learn what good Lambrusco is.  This is the place to start. 

~ The frizzante Lambrusco from Opera 02 ~

Cin Cin!

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