Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Portobello Blues

CAUTION, this recipe has a "Vegetarian Option" in deference to my good friends Scott and Shelly.  It is appropriately labeled so you don't have to read it, if you don't want to.

Recently, the upper Northern regions of MN experienced a great loss when the owner of the Foundry Tavern in Cloquet stopped making/selling her famous Blue Cheese dressing.  It was always my intention to get some of that white gold and to stuff some portobello mushroom caps with it, but somehow we always managed to eat it all before I could get around to buying the mushrooms.

With the incredible flavor of her chunky dressing burned into my head, I set out to duplicate it, and to stuff some mushrooms with it, and to wrap them with bacon!

You Will Need:
  • 15 "Baby Bells" Portobello Mushroom Caps
  • 1lb of Thick Bacon
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled and Minced
  • 1 8oz block of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 Cup Half and Half
  • 4oz Blue Cheese Crumbles
  • 2Tbsp Chopped Fresh Chives

Get things started by dumping the garlic, cream cheese, half and half, chives, and blue-cheese crumbles into the bowl for your mixer. Use a paddle attachment and start it up, low and slow.  When things first start to come together, the mix will look wet and sloppy and you'll think, "There is no way this is going to work," but stick with it.  When things are combined, bring the speed of the mixer up to medium for at least two full minutes.  Sprinkle in some salt and pepper.  This will set up into a gloriously thick and delicious blue cheese mixture and you'll be tempted to just eat the whole batch with a spoon.

Now, pull the stems out of your baby bellos and use a small kitchen spoon to stuff each cap with cheese.  Be generous. While you're doing this, start to contemplate the wine you'll need for this dish.  I think "Cab Sav" when I cook portobellos, but that might be because I usually serve them alongside a thick New York Strip.  You have an awesome blue cheese to think about, and bacon is coming too!  Personally I don't think you can go wrong here, when it comes to a wine selection.  Perhaps my friend Tim (California man with a nose for the grape) will comment with his ideas.  Drizzle some olive oil onto a small steel pan (or cookie sheet, if you want to use your oven, rather than the grill) and line up your little caps as you get them stuffed.  If you want to dip the mushroom stems into your cheese to snack on while you do this, I will not be there to stop you...

Now, using some kitchen sheers, cut your bacon strips in half.  Lay a 1/2 strip of bacon over the top of each cap, and tuck the ends underneath the bottom.  Take care not to squish the cheese out from under the bacon.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel some thin strips of eggplant or zucchini as a substitute for the bacon.  The eggplant will take on a very presentable color and will look nice.   It won't taste as good as bacon, but it's probably better for you, if you are trying to live to be 120.

Ok, time to cook.  These little dudes only need to stay in the oven long enough to crisp up the edges of the bacon.  I use my grill, rather than the oven, but the concept is the same; 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Hindsight being 20/20, I'm looking at this picture and I'm wondering how marvelous it would have been to hide a thin slice of jalapeno in the base of each mushroom, prior to stuffing?  Your mileage may vary.  Regardless of how you might want to embellish, this is an amazing dish that you will love!

I planned to serve it for Easter brunch but sadly, we ate them all before any of my guests arrived.  Early bird... worm... you know the drill.

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