(These photos are of the stuffed mushrooms ready for the freezer.)
For Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I’m having two different sets of guests – and wanted to make stuffed mushrooms as one of the side dishes for each meal. For many years, I’ve made them, sometimes using fresh crabmeat and sometimes not. Our local seafood market has been increasing the cost of fresh Maine crabmeat from $14.99, gradually now to $20.99. It’s the same stuff. But they hike it up especially for the holidays, something I think is both unkind and unnecessarily pushy to take advantage of customers.
So, this year, I decided to forego it. I was in Wegman’s this morning and they had large boxes of Bella mushrooms for sale – so I bought two of them, not knowing how many I would need for the two meals. When I got home, I emptied them out into a large pan and de-stemmed them all, wiping them if they needed it. I ended up with two bins of mushrooms, sorted by size. I did some research online to see what the best way would be to prepare them so that they tasted best four days from now. All advice pointed to freezing them stuffed ahead of time, and without cooking the mushrooms.
All right then, as Freddy Mercury used to say! For the stuffing, I peeled and finely chopped a fresh shallot instead of using garlic. I melted half a stick of unsalted butter and put in the shallots. I then chopped up some fresh Italian parsley and added that to the pan – it became aromatic pretty quickly with some Bell’s seasoning powder sprinkled on top. I noticed that I had two squares of leftover homemade cornbread from the other night, so I crumbled them by hand into the pan. Then, I added my good old stand-by – Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing crumbs – added a little chicken broth just to meld the stuffing together, but not for it to stick together. A little more Bell’s seasoning (it smells and tastes so good!) and I left the crumbly mixture to cool.
When it had cooled, I cut up some Philadelphia cream cheese (which was sitting out at room temperature) and with two small knives, I cut the cream cheese into the stuffing until it was pretty well incorporated. Then, according to some online advice, I put a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and with a spoon and my fingers, I filled the largest mushrooms first – pressing the filling into the mushrooms and placing them on the parchment paper. I created a level space in my freezer (this might have been the hardest part of the whole exercise!) and placed the sheet of stuffed mushrooms to freeze. Most instructions said 3 hours should be enough time for them to freeze solid.
When frozen, the stuffed mushrooms can then be put into freezer bags or lined up in serving course containers until ready to cook. For that, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place the frozen mushrooms directly on into baking dishes sprayed with Pam. Bake for about 30 minutes or so until browned on top and cooked through. I won’t know for a few days how these will taste but I’ll add a footnote and photos when we have them on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Fingers crossed!~ and happy holidays, everyone~!