I've been feeling crabby lately. In my most recent Local Flavor column, featuring a recipe for King crab mac and cheese, I claim that there are 2 kinds of people in Alaska: King crab people, and Dungeness people. In the spirit of fairness, I felt a journalistic responsibility to provide the Dungeness faction with an equally luxe and decadent preparation for their favored crustacean.
I owe the inspiration for this dish to a friend and Local Flavor fan named Robyn from Saginaw, Michigan. Robyn contacted me asking if I might have a recipe for Crab Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Beurre Blanc Sauce and Balsamic Glaze. Sometimes revelation comes in the form of a Facebook comment.
Robyn had been seeking a recipe for this dish after enjoying it at one of her local eateries. The chef wouldn't give it up, so I vowed to make a blind attempt.
I based the filling on a classic crab cake recipe. One of the most common complaints I hear about crab cakes is that often they are overly diluted with filler - usually bread crumbs - resulting in a dry and gummy puck of a cake. The best crab cakes are full of crab, super moist and kind of a trick to fry up without breaking. That's why Portobello caps are such a brilliant and utilitarian choice. Their natural shape creates the perfect mold for an ultra-moist and crabby filling. The only crumbs you'll find here are in the crisp parmesan topping.
Rather than making two sauces (a balsamic glaze and a beurre blanc), it seemed natural and time-saving to unite the flavors into one sauce. I replaced white vinegar with balsamic in a basic beurre blanc (white butter) sauce, and used that to drizzle around the mushrooms.
The results? Not a drop or morsel remained of my efforts. Our plates were so clean I nearly put them back in the cupboard.
Crab stuffed portobellos with balsamic beurre blanc
No-stick cooking spray
4 portobello mushrooms
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup finely diced red bell pepper
¼ cup finely diced shallot
2 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning*
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 lb. Dungeness crab meat
1 teaspoon butter
¼ cup Panko bread crumbs
⅓ cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into cubes
1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Use a paring knife to remove stems from mushrooms, and scrape away gills using the edge of a spoon. Brush the mushrooms on both sides with olive oil, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet stem side up.
2. Heat about a teaspoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add diced red pepper and shallot, and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and add cream cheese to pan, stirring until softened. Place in a medium mixing bowl along with 2 tablespoons parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, mustard, and mayonnaise. Mix thoroughly before folding in crab meat. Divide the filling evenly among the mushroom caps.
3. Melt butter in a small microwavable bowl. Add Panko breading and stir until crumbs are evenly coated. Add Parmesan and stir to combine. Sprinkle evenly atop the filled mushrooms. Place in oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until tops are golden and filling is heated through.
4. During last 10 minutes of baking, make the sauce. Combine balsamic vinegar and soy sauce in a small saucepan, over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and let bubble until liquid is reduced by ⅔. Remove from heat and add cold butter to pan, cube by cube, swirling to incorporate each cube.
5. To serve the mushrooms, place each on a warmed salad plate, and use a spoon to lightly drizzle the balsamic sauce around the edge of the plate. Sprinkle mushrooms with remaining 2 teaspoons parsley, and serve immediately.
*Can be found in the seafood department at Safeway.
Ginny Mahar is a trained chef and food writer who works at Rainbow Foods. She writes about all things "food" in Juneau, from cooking with local ingredients to restaurant news and food events. View more of her food writing at ginnymahar.blogspot.com.
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