Well, I’m all set for winter. In the stress and disruption of construction last spring, I appear to have forgotten to switch my snow tires for the all-weather ones in the garage. I suppose it’s a viable way to cut down on errands.
The primary sign of impending deep freeze (besides the snow squall on Sunday and the need for the heavy quilt) is that the snow birds are flying south today. A couple of years ago, my folks bought a house in West Palm Beach to be near my sister, Wendy, and her family for half the year. This year, they are taking Socrates, the cat, on the plane with them. Sox is pretty sure he doesn’t care much for flying.
Their local home is on a lake about an hour from here; this has been a bit of a tough summer for them with health issues including a knee replacement for Dad, so I’ve been bringing them feasts at least once a week. That way, we all have a nice meal together and they get leftovers to last a few days. Yesterday, I cooked all morning and packed up a banquet; stuffed mushrooms, roasted local pink, yellow, and sweet potatoes (we still have some of the sweets we dug at the orchard), braised brussels sprouts, and my famous chocolate chip cookies. I baked a soft bread; this time, I decided to do a braid. Pretty, right?
We took the leftovers home since they were leaving. Tonight, I made a salad with persimmons, parm, and pumpkin seeds. A beautiful, bright orange kuri squash got cut into rough chunks and roasted with a bit of walnut oil and sea salt. The mushrooms throw off liquid as they cook; it mixes with the bits of cheese that fall on the pan and together, this ugly mixture, warm, forms a sauce that is the essence of umami. Great on the mushrooms themselves, but also on the salad and squash.
Turkey Stuffed Portobellos
This recipe makes 8 mushrooms. One per person is really plenty, but if I was making these for a dinner party, I would want some extras just to be safe. I have a little bit of a phobia about running out of food during a dinner party.
There are two secrets to a truly great, succulent, turkey meatloaf. One is to use the stand mixer to mix the meat with all the other ingredients. The other is to add a bit of water.
Gluten Free: Use GF panko, readily available.
Paleo: Substitute walnut crumbs for the panko and omit cheeses.
8 portobello mushrooms with stems, 3 ½-4 inches diameter*
1 large leek
¼ cup red wine
2 tbs. neutral oil for med-high heat (I used walnut)
2 lbs. lean ground turkey, organic if possible (do not use all white meat)
¾ cup panko
1 tomato, small dice
½ cup grated parm
½ cup grated cheddar (or melting cheese of your choice)
salt and pepper to taste
*If you can’t find portobellos with stems, use 6-8 cremini mushrooms instead of the stems in the filling.
Preheat the oven to 375° and line a sheet pan with parchment. Wash them well under running water and trim off the bases of the stems. Remove the stems from the mushrooms by gently rocking and twisting so the cap separates. Lay the caps down to dry on a towel, gills down.
Clean and trim the leek, remove the dark green parts and save them for stock or compost them. Mince the leek and mushroom caps. Sauté the minced veggies in 1 tbs. of the oil over medium high heat until they begin to soften. Add the wine and cook for 5-8 minutes until the wine reduces a bit and starts to become thick. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes.
Place the panko in the bowl of your stand mixer (feel free to use a really big bowl, but the stand mixer is ideal for this job) and add the eggs and 2 tbs. of cold water. Season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Now add the meat, the cooled leek mixture, the tomatoes and the parm. Mix well.
Prep the mushroom caps by brushing or rubbing the caps side with the remaining oil. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place them, gills up, on the sheet pan and fill each with an 8th of turkey mixture.
Bake for 30 minutes; at this point, the mushrooms will have thrown off quite a bit of liquid. Being careful not to burn yourself, tilt the pan and pour off most of it. Reserve. Don’t worry if there’s still some left in the pan. Top the mushrooms with the grated cheddar. Some of it will fall off, that’s fine. Pop the pan back into the oven for 10-15 minutes more, until the cheese is melted and a bit brown and the center of the meatloaves measures 160 on an instant read thermometer.
Place the mushrooms on a serving platter and scrape the bits off the pan and add to the reserved liquid. This cheese, sludgy mixture is not beautiful, but wait until you taste it! Since it’s not piping hot, reheat it in a pan or in the microwave before you serve it with the mushrooms.