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Crabmeat-Stuffed Mushrooms

This is a popular old dish that’s made badly four times out of five. The pitfall is murkiness, born of the fact that mushrooms contain so much water that they can make everything they touch turn soggy. You avoid that by using very fresh mushrooms, and by making a stuffing that won’t block the escape of moisture as they bake. Finish it off with the miracle that is hollandaise sauce, in a version that uses a bit more lemon than most.

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions–bulbs and tops
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Dash Tabasco
  • 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
  • 8 large mushroom caps
  • 2/3 cup lemony, light hollandaise (recipe here)

1. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat, and sauté the onions and bell peppers until they’re soft but not browned.

2. Add the sherry, salt, and Tabasco, and bring to a light boil. After a minute, add the crabmeat. Cook until heated through, agitating the pan to avoid breaking up the lumps.

3. Spoon the crabmeat mixture into the mushroom caps. Dust the tops with a sprinkling of bread crumbs, and heat in a preheated 400-degree oven until the mushrooms are soft and the bread crumbs toast a little.

4. Spoon about a tablespoon of hollandaise over each mushroom and serve. Here’s the recipe for that:

I make this version of hollandaise for topping crepes and baked oysters. Its texture is a bit thinner than classical hollandaise, and the lemon component is more pronounced–although the longer it sits there staying warm, the thicker it gets. You can use this as a sauce for almost anything. Add small amounts of other ingredients to extend the possibilities. (Example: a teaspoon of Creole mustard.)

2 egg yolks
1 stick butter, softened
2 Tbs. lemon juice
Pinch cayenne

1. Briskly whisk the egg yolks with 1 Tbs. warm water in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering but not boiling water until they begin to noticeably thicken. If the eggs appear to be curdling, take the bowl off the heat, but keep whisking. Keep going back and forth from the heat until the mixture is uniform in texture and much lighter in color.

2. Adding the melted butter, a pat at a time, while whisking. After about a fourth of the butter is in there, you’ll see a major change in the texture of the sauce. Add a teaspoon of water at that point and step up the addition of the butter a bit. Keep going till all the butter is incorporated.

3. Whisk in the cayenne and lemon juice. Serve right away, or spoon it over the likes of crabmeat-stuffed mushrooms, than run it under a hot broiler until it browns just a little.

Serves four entrees or eight appetizers.