Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stuffed Artichokes and Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Today was an experiment in using a variety of stuffings in a variety of some of my favorite foods -- and from the title, you've guessed them already -- artichokes and mushrooms. I've been wanting to try stuffed versions of both, and happened to have some artichokes, some mushrooms, some wine and some sausage that all needed eating.

Here are my first attempts at making stuffed artichokes and stuffed mushrooms.

I absolutely adore steamed artichokes, let me say that right off the bat. They've been a treat ever since I was a little girl, whose parents braved the produce section of the grocery stores in 1980s Anchorage. Times have changes, as have the availability of fresh produce, but I still consider fresh, steamed artichokes a delicacy.

As of late, I've been hearing about stuffed artichokes left and right. We had two artichokes in the fridge that were approaching the "have to be eaten, or else" stage.

And I thought, "What a perfect opportunity; make hay while the sun shines." Or something like that. Not coming from a farming family, I know very little about making hay or any other farming-related madness.

I found a great recipe on All Recipes, but only had some of the ingredients, so enter the right-brained side of Erin that only rarely sees the light. A little of this and a little of that, and oooh! won't that be good!!

Stuffed Artichokes
(printable recipe)

2 artichokes
3 tbsp olive oil divided
2 tsp diced garlic
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (or crumbled dried basil leaves)
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano

The first step was the most baffling interesting to me. I've never considered chopping off the ends of the artichoke leaves... that's how you hold on to them. However, it does make for a very pretty contemporary-looking artichoke -- all angles. All the better to stuff them with, my pretties. After trimming all the outside leaves, stretching them outward as I went, it was time to follow the Chocolate Orange philosophy -- Whack and Unwrap. (If you've never had a Chocolate Orange or Raspberry during the holidays, I pity you I am not kidding, those are the instructions on the package.)

Set the artichokes aside, and mix in a bowl 1 tbsp olive oil (setting the other 2 tbsp aside), the bread crumbs (since we're moving soon, I'm using up old ingredients and used Progresso Italian Style, rather than freshly crumbled bread), and all other ingredients. Make sure they are mixed up quite well. Then pack into your artichokes.

In a deep pan, add the remaining two tbsp of olive oil, then your artichokes. Make sure that they are snug (not sure on the why of this, but am following this one part of the All Recipes recipe) and then add enough water to the pan so that half of the artichokes are covered. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour or until the leaves can be easily pulled from the 'chokes.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Of note, next time I would use much less olive oil in the pot as it left the chokes a little oily, but definitely gave them a little more moisture overall. May incorporate this into the next round of steamed chokes.

Also, next time, I want to add something with a meat-like substance for added flavor and for consistency -- either chopped mushrooms, ground turkey, ground chicken, etc.

Part Deuce
The stuffed mushrooms had no recipe whatsoever, but they turned out deliciously! If any of the ingredients listed below are too little adjust accordingly or to taste; I tried to estimate conservatively so you don't end up with overly garlicky shroomies.

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
(printable recipe)

12-16 white button mushrooms
1 portabella mushroom cap
1/2 pound pork sausage (we had this, would also try turkey sausage)
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/4 cup red wine (I used Shiraz from a bottle that I'd forgotten opening, and was subsequently too vinegary to drink)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp Garlic and Wine seasoning from the Melting Pot
2/3 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 350

Mix the sausage, bread crumbs, red wine, olive oil, and seasoning together. Be sure to get all ingredients fully incorporated into the sausage. (If you don't have the Melting Pot's seasoning, use a mix of garlic, garlic salt, parsley and a smidge of flour, as well as any other seasonings you think will be good.)

Brown the sausage mixture over medium heat. This will save you time in the long run. Be sure not to add the cheese until after the sausage is browned -- otherwise it will end up glommed onto the bottom of the pot. (I had an aha! moment just after the cheese had been mixed in, followed by a duh! moment when I saw what became of the cheese.)

While the sausage is browning, rinse the mushrooms, and pop the stems out (much easier than cutting). After the sausage has browned, mix in 1/2 cup of the cheese (again if your name is Erin!) and then a dash of red wine for flavor.

Place mushrooms in a greased baking dish, and spoon the sausage mix into your mushrooms topping with a sprinkling of cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is slightly melted and sausage is browned.

Garnish with green beans, parsley, or tomatoes for color, and serve.

A keeper for sure!


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