Grilled Crab and Fontina Stuffed Mushrooms
I know Christmas hasn't even passed yet, but I'm already looking ahead to New Years. While my attention at Christmas wanders to grand mains that command a presence at the center of the table, New Years is all about the finger foods. Keeping up the excess and richness of the season, I like to go a little bigger in scope on New Years than my everyday wings or peppers—although there's always room for those as well. When considering a stuffed mushroom that might be suitable for the celebration, the standard cheese and breadcrumb mixture didn't seem take things far enough. So I went in search for some inspiration and came across these crab and Fontina stuffed mushrooms and thought they were the answer I was looking for, so I gave the recipe a try.
What attracted me most to these was the crab. You may have to pay a pretty penny for some quality lump crabmeat, but this was the type of excess (in a good way) that made them answer the call for something special. It wasn't just the crab either, but the compliments that made up the entire filling, which started with sauteing shallots. Then a splash of white wine was added in followed by panko breadcrumbs to bind and lighten up the stuffing, Fontina for a creamy and nutty compliment, lemon juice for brightness and acidity, a little seasoning in the way of paprika, and the crabmeat, of course.
The mushroom choice of criminis was another selling point to me. While white button mushrooms serve me fine usually, I turn to criminis when I want to amp up the mushroom flavor. These young portobellos have an earthier flavor in comparison, and taste more, well, mushroomy. The deeper flavor of the vessel only heightened the idea that these were going to have a lot more going on than the usual stuffed mushroom.
The mushrooms were divorced from their stems and then tossed with a little oil, salt, and pepper. Then a heaping spoonful of the cooled filling was stuffed into each cap and they all got a generous sprinkling of more Fontina cheese to top them off.
The mushrooms were placed on the cool side of a two-zone fire, covered, and let cook until that Fontina topping was melted. This took around fifteen minutes over medium-high heat.
It only took one taste to know that these were something special. They had a rich filling that was a contrast between the sweet and meaty crab, creamy nutty cheese, and earthy mushroom that was a much more complex, yet harmonious, flavor profile than most stuffed mushrooms I've had. It fulfilled my search for a decadent finger food that would let partygoers ring in the new year in delicious fashion.
Grilled Crab and Fontina Stuffed Mushrooms
- Yield 4 to 6 servings as an appetizer
- Prep 30 Minutes
- Cook 20 Minutes
- Total 50 Minutes
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots (about 1 medium)
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- 1/2 cup panko-style bread crumbs
- 1/3 pound fresh lump crabmeat
- 1/2 cup shredded Italian fontina cheese, divided
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 24 medium crimini mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Melt butter in medium skillet over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add white wine and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in panko bread crumbs, remove from heat, let cool for 10 minutes. Stir in crabmeat, 1/3 cup fontina cheese, lemon juice, and paprika. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large bowl, gently toss mushroom caps in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Remove mushrooms to plate and stuff each with crab stuffing mixture. Top mushrooms with remaining cheese.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Arrange mushrooms over cool side of the grill. Cover and cook until cheese is melted and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from grill, let cool for 5 minutes, then serve.
Adapted from Chow