Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Is life too short to be stuffing mushrooms? Not if they are big Portobello mushrooms! I’m starting to rediscover the recipes of my youth. These meat stuffed mushrooms make a perfect main course for the family, or a successful starter for a dinner party. I plated them on a bed of very thinly sliced white cabbage that I fried very simply in duck fat, then added the juice form the cooked mushrooms. It may not have been haute cuisine, but all the guests asked for the recipe. It’s just that kind of a dish.

And for just a bit of science; Did you know that the Portobello mushroom and the button mushroom are one and the same? Agaricus bisporus is white or brown when young and grows to a cap size of 12-15cm and that’s when they are called Portobello mushrooms. Or Portabella or Portabello. The one thing they have nothing to do with is Portobello Road, even though there used to be a Portobello Farm there in the 18th century, so maybe…

Meat Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

makes 6 mushrooms, enough for 3 as a main

  • 6 big portobello mushrooms
  • 250g minced meat (see note for meat options)
  • 200g goat ricotta (no cream added)
  • 1 big shallot
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped rough
  • 1 big handful English parsley
  • 8-10 sage leaves
  • small bundle chives
  • ½ sprig fresh rosemary, leaves only
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ Tbsp Italian bread crumbs (or other
  • 6 tsp double cream
  • freshly grated Emmenthal cheese for the top
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 tsp butter per mushroom (inside cap before filling)
  • 3 Tbsp good olive oil

Gently break the foot off the mushroom and remove it. Use a teaspoon to carefully remove the dark gills without breaking the rim of your mushroom. Salt and pepper both sides. Butter an ovenproof dish that will hold the mushrooms snugly and add your mushrooms rounded side down. Put a small tablespoon of butter into the bowl of each mushroom.

Peel and chop the garlic medium rough, then dice the shallot small. Finely chop the sage, rosemary, chives and parsley. Keep the garlic, the shallots and the herbs separately. Now heat two tablespoons of the oil in a pot and when it is smoking hot, add the minced meat. You can use any kind of mince, but preferably something with a little fat on it. Stir to break the meat up and once it is cooked through, add the garlic and fry until the garlic is just starting to take a little colour at the edges. Now add the shallots, lower the heat and fry for about two minutes. Turn off the heat, salt and pepper your meat and add the chopped herbs to it. Leave it to cool for ten minutes.

Add the ricotta to the cooked meat and stir to mix in. Now add the egg and stir to mix thoroughly. Last add the breadcrumbs and mix well once again. Check and adjust the seasoning. If the mix seems a little too wet at first, leave it to rest for five minutes and check again. If necessary, use a little more breadcrumb. If on the other hand it seems too dry, just add a dash of cream and if you don’t have that to hand, add a tablespoon of milk. preheat your oven to 200ºC

Divide your meat mix into roughly 6, pick up a mushroom and fill it so you have a nice dome of filling. Repeat until all the mushrooms have been filled. Make sure your mushrooms rest securely in your dish, then top each mushroom with a teaspoon of double cream and grate a generous amount of cheese over each. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes and leave to rest outside the oven for 5 minutes before serving. There will be a lot of juice, so make sure you serve it with something that can absorb this delicious sauce.

NOTE:          Depending on what type of minced meat you are using, you may want to vary the type of herbs you use and the side dish you serve it with.

Beef Mince – Rosemary, thyme and parsley would be the traditional herbs, but try oregano, chervil, a little rosemary, and just 4 sage leaves plus a handful of English parsley. Buttered Basmati rice will be perfect with it.

Lamb Mince – Mint and basil in an equal proportions, the same amount of chives and a tiny touch of anis seeds will be wonderful and if you replace the ricotta with 150g barrel aged feta and 50g liquid cream, you won’t regret it. Serve with a simple couscous moistened with lemon oil and chopped preserved lemons.

Chicken Mince – Forget using any minced chicken from the shop – it’s mostly watery rubbish, so mince your own. It is really quite easy, even by hand and you do not need a super fine mince anyway. Start by cutting the chicken skin into small pieces and then mince it together with the chicken meat. Sage, chervil and chives will work well. Alternatively use basil and marjoram and add three tablespoons of grated parmesan to your mix. Soft, creamy polenta will be heaven with it. (Try a 75% chicken 25% beef mix for a fuller flavour)

Pork Mince – Use the herbs listed above, because that’s the mince I designed them for. It was the only mince I had in the house. I served the mushrooms with ratatouille and fresh tomato red onion couscous.

Fish Mince – My advice is to use a mix of fish and prawn, about 70%-30%. And then rosemary should be the dominant herb, together with chives and spring onions. Rice is the obvious choice, but a small diced zucchini tossed in olive oil and moistened with fresh lemon juice and some roast potatoes will be quite outstanding.

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