Jalapeño Cornbread Stuffed Mushrooms
Beyond the time with family, the thing I look forward to most at Thanksgiving is having sausage cornbread stuffing. Growing up, we weren't really a stuffing family, but when I began taking over the responsibility for cooking most of the holiday meal after college, I began experimenting with introducing stuffing and trying out different recipes. It was only a few years in when I hit the sausage cornbread stuffing recipe from Cook's Illustrated, and after trying that one, I've never used any other recipe since because I love it so much. Its presence on the table is non-negotiable and I only cook that recipe once a year and really have never considered its use anywhere outside of the holiday meal after all these years. So it was a little surprising that it popped to mind when I was looking for a side dish to serve at a chili-centric cookout last fall, thinking it would be great as a stuffing inside of mushrooms. I did want this recipe to be vegetarian-friendly, so instead of going for sausage, I swapped the meat out for an equally delicious combo of jalapeño and cheddar which all came together incredibly well in these jalapeño cornbread stuffed mushrooms.
This recipe isn't far off from the original inspiration, but the swapping of the primary stuffing seasoning did require some adjustments to the supporting players. The Thanksgiving dish I make utilized both sautéed onions and celery, but I omitted the celery here in favor of jalapeños. Then I held off adding any herbal component since its the sage and thyme combo I would normally use that really gives the dish its holiday tilt.
Instead, I opted to add a fair portion of sliced scallions into the stuffing mixture, which was made by combining cornbread (I used my own sweet Northern-style recipe) with half-and-half, egg, the vegetable mixture, and cheddar cheese, then folding everything together until all ingredients were well distributed and the liquid was absorbed by the bread. Depending on the starting moisture in your cornbread, you may need to add a little extra half-and-half if the mixture looks too dry for you.
Once I had the stuffing done, I prepped the mushrooms by first removing the stems and then cleaning the caps. I then placed them in a large bowl and added in oil, salt, and pepper and tossed until all the mushrooms were well coated in the seasoning and oil.
Next, I stuffed each generously with the cornbread mixture. Since the stuffing was holding together well when mashed into the mushrooms, I was able to create mounds rising out of the caps, which made me happy because I knew I was going to get a lot of that sweet and savory flavor I love in each bite.
Cooking these was a cinch—I merely placed them on the cool side of a two-zone medium-high fire, covered, and then just waited for the mushrooms to soften and the stuffing to start to brown. For me, the mushrooms were definitely done by fifteen minutes into cooking, but the stuffing had just begun to dry out on the outside by then and had not browned. So I let them cook longer, and about five minutes later, they had a nice light golden color and a little crispness to the stuffing and I considered them done.
I feel like this is one of this dishes that doesn't deliver a lot on looks, but what it lacks in that department, it makes up double time in flavor. I got a little frustrated trying to get a photo that I thought looked good of brown on brown blobs, but once I decided to just go with what I had and popped a mushroom into my mouth, all of those negative feelings melted away when that rich, sweet, and creamy cornbread stuffing flavor entered my life again. I've made jalapeño-cheddar cornbread before, so I knew that spicy and sharp combo tastes pretty great in this context, and that continued to hold true here. Where things got even better though was with introduction of the mushroom, which added a heartiness and earthy quality that made up for omitting the meat in my mind. I continue to feel like the sausage cornbread stuffing that led me to this dish will always remain a special holiday treat, but I like the idea of letting that beloved dish creep into other creations because these stuffed mushrooms proved it certainly works.
Jalapeño Cornbread Stuffed Mushrooms
- Yield 4 to 6 servings as an appetizer
- Prep 15 Minutes
- Cook 15 Minutes
- Total 30 Minutes
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about 1/2 a medium onion)
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeño pepper (about 2 medium peppers)
- 2 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
- 3 cups of crumbled cornbread
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 4 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup finely sliced scallions (about 2 scallions)
- 1 pound cremini or white button mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
- 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Melt butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat until foaming subsides. Add in onion and jalapeños and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl.
- Add cornbread, half-and-half, egg, cheese, and scallions into bowl. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold mixture until ingredients are well distributed and liquid has been absorbed into bread. Season stuffing mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place mushrooms in a large bowl. Add in oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat mushrooms evenly in oil and seasoning. Stuff each mushroom with spoonfuls of cornbread mixture so the stuffing mounds outside of cap.
- 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 grilling grate. Place mushrooms, stuffing side up, on cool side of grill and cover. Cook until mushrooms are completely tender and stuffing has begun to brown on top, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a serving platter and serve immediately.