Holiday EntertainingWhat to CookCooking with ScrapsAppetizers

An Appetizer That’s Just Right for Every Situation

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I once showed up to a backyard barbecue in a strapless dress, kitten heels, and a tray full of complicated (though delicious) appetizers. No one will be surprised by what happened next: my heels kept sinking into the grass, and my resulting graceless wobbling made my dress continuously slip down, which forced me to awkwardly yank my dress up. My fancy one-bite appetizers went uneaten in favor of ruffled potato chips and tubs of french onion dip. I’d completely misread the situation.

What I should have done was bring a sure-fire hit appetizer: you know, the one that’s just as snug at a casual gathering as it is at a cocktail party, the one that satisfies both your foodie friend and your meat-and-potatoes uncle, the one that is always the first to disappear. Like deviled eggs, crostini, and stuffed mushrooms.

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Photo by Bobbi Lin

Anna Francese Gass’s stuffed mushrooms are the stuffed mushroom recipe to turn to for every event this holiday season. They don’t call for any hard-to-find ingredients, are easy to make (and can even be partially made ahead), and taste exactly how you imagine a quintessential stuffed mushroom should.

If they taste like a classic, well, that's because they are: Anna’s passion is cooking with grandmothers around the country and collecting these beloved recipes on her blog, Heirloom Kitchen (the grandmother in this case, and the source of the recipe, is her own mother, Gina), in hopes that these recipes will continue to be cherished for generations to come.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Besides the fact these are bound to be a crowd-pleaser, I’m fond of these mushrooms for two reasons. They incorporate the mushrooms’ stems: that’s not always the case with stuffed mushroom recipes, but it should be—they have the same mushroom-y flavor and serve to bulk up the filling. In addition, Anna notes that any extra filling can be rolled into balls and frozen for a future mini-batch, which is exactly what I did. But you could also make and freeze the entire batch of filling, not just the extras, so you’re ready to make stuffed mushrooms for a crowd at a moment’s notice.

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Nonna Gina's Stuffed Mushrooms

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Serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer
  • 3 1/2 pounds large cremini or button mushrooms, stems removed and reserved
  • 2 pounds Italian pork sausage (spicy or sweet), casings removed
  • 2 cups Ritz crackers
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped fine
  • 2 small yellow onions, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Know of a great recipe hiding in the Food52 archives that uses an overlooked kitchen scrap (anything from commonly discarded produce parts to stale bread to bones and more)?

Tell me about it in the comments: I want to know how you're turning what would otherwise be trash into a dish to treasure!

Tags: cooking with scraps, mushrooms, mushrooms stems, stuffed mushrooms