“Odd yet savory” works when describing tonight’s concoction, Mushrooms Fester. As the dish’s title hints, this is among the recipes Addams Family creator Charles Addams collected and intended to put in a macabre-themed cookbook. Unfortunately, Addams died before he could complete the project, yet his widow gathered what Addams had found, and published it in the Half-Baked Cookbook.
Among its pages are many unusual items a modern cook would be hard-pressed to create, even if the will to do so were present. Here you’ll find instructions for “Potted Woodland Squirrel,” as well as a recipe for “Influenza Punch,” calling for, among other items, rum and syrup of cloves. “Mushrooms Fester” stands out, unusual name aside, as being uniquely achievable, a variation of stuffed mushrooms.
Here’s closeup, providing a little more detail than what’s in the main photo:
It is a wonderful creation, as mushrooms are bathed in lime juice and are baked stuffed with chopped mushroom stems, butter, garlic and “brown bread crumbs.” A couple slices of pumpernickel, toasted and crumbled, work well here and compliment the other flavors. Before serving, the mushroom caps are sprinkled with sherry to enhance the taste and to moisten the filling. Likely, this would make Gomez Addams exclaim,
“Fester, old man, what a capital dish!”
The cookbook suggests sherry as an alternative to the original ingredient, hare’s blood. Seriously. Apparently, before renaming the preparation for one of his characters, Uncle Fester, Addams found the recipe in an 1840s cookbook, New Things to Eat. Maybe hare’s blood was something cooks used 175 years ago, but it’s unthinkable nowadays. Particularly on a personal level, as my first pet was a rabbit. Besides, sherry is quite nice.
Unpleasantness thus avoided, the preparation comes together well. Butter and sherry make the filling succulent, while chopped mushrooms and bread crumbs give it substance. Cilantro, pumpernickel and garlic lend ethereal wisps of flavor. A quick and perfect warmer for a chilly night spent among the neighborhood’s little ghosts, vampires and witches.
Enough talk. Morticia trims roses for the dinner table, meaning it soon will be time to dine. Let’s eat!
- 24 small mushrooms
- juice from 1 large lime
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (*1)
- 1/2 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 onion, grated (*2)
- salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons hare’s blood, or sherry (*3)
- 1/2 cup brown bread crumbs (*4)
Remove and set aside the mushroom stems, then sprinkle the caps with the lime juice.
Mince the mushroom stems and set them aside. Place a small skillet over a medium flame and melt the butter in it. Sauté the minced mushroom stems, stirring constantly until tender and golden-brown, about two minutes.
In a mediums bowl mix the sautéed mushrooms with all the other ingredients except the sherry and the mushroom caps. Stuff the caps with the mixture, mounding it slightly. Place the mushroom caps, stuffing side up, in a baking dish.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then plate, sprinkle with sherry, and serve.
1 – Cilantro has a superior taste, as it lacks parsley’s bitterness.
2 – Sorry, Fester, I went with a medium shallot.
3 – Shudder. Where would one even get hare’s blood, even if one were so inclined? Plus, why give up the opportunity to cook with booze?
4 – Pumpernickel contributes a complimentary flavor, and it definitely qualifies, being a “brown” bread. Toast two slices, then crumble them. It adds up to half cup, maybe a little more.