Splendid Stuffed Mushrooms

Years ago, I met a dear friend named Bud (Sydney) Tudge, a former chef at the Waldorf Astoria who found his way to the Hudson Valley. Bud opened a clam stand in a little town and served the best fried clams and coleslaw to ever come down the pike. His clam stand eventually evolved into a full restaurant, which sadly closed after he died. He was a mentor to me for years and it was he who insisted that these stuffed mushrooms would be a boon to my very newly established catering company. He was correct.

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Ingredients:

  • ½ cup walnut pieces
  • 24 large white stuffing mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • ½ cup dried breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

PREHEAT THE OVEN to 375°F. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cool, finely chop, and set aside. Wash the mushrooms with a damp cloth and remove the stems and the dark-colored gills inside if the mushrooms are older. Finely chop the stems. If the mushroom caps are very round, trim a small slice off the tops so they will sit level on the baking sheet.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the sausage and cook and crumble into small pieces with a wooden spoon until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add the chopped mushroom stems and cook until tender and no liquid remains in the pan (increase the heat if needed to boil away the excess water that the mushrooms give off), about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and let cool completely. Add the chopped walnuts, scallions, breadcrumbs, Gruyère, Parmesan, and parsley to the sausage mixture and season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the mushroom caps with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and season with salt. Stuff the mushrooms with the filling, dividing it evenly. Arrange the stuffed mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the caps are tender and the filling is crispy, 17 to 18 minutes.