About a month ago, I splurged and picked up a Big Green Egg. For those who may not know, the Big Green Egg will usher you into a new world of charcoal barbecuing and smoking all sort of food items. I was away for a few torturous days when it first arrived but quickly sparked it up for a few New York strip steaks as soon as I could!
Once I understood the business end of this new charcoal Kamado grill and BBQ, I decided to delve into the world of smoked meats and foods. My experimentation was in high gear last weekend as I prepared to host a wine tasting night for my wine-buying club. I figured I would smoke some proscuitto-wrapped shrimp and try my hand at cold-smoking cheese. What should have been a 4-5 hour smoking session for the cheese ended up lasting about 8 hours as the wood pellets kept going out. There is definitely a fine balance to cold-smoking – particularly something like cheese – too much heat doesn’t work well for your product. Luckily, I managed to eke out the cheese smoking the day before the party. I slipped the block of Swiss and two types of Cheddar back into their original sleeves, wrapped them individually in cling film and popped them into air-tight containers before placing them in the fridge. These layers helped keep the smoky flavour and smell contained – and away from all other food!
On Saturday, I whipped up the mushroom cap filling (based loosely on something I found online), filled them and topped with a Panko/Parmesan mixture. I wrapped the shrimp and loaded them all onto wire cooling racks. These would be very useful to move the caps and shrimp on and off the grill in a cinch. A few hours before everyone arrived, I sparked up the Big Green Egg and smoked the shrimp and caps for about 75 minutes at 225*F. The shrimp would be just as good at room temperature and I would pop the caps under the broiler for a few minutes before serving to warm and crisp them up again. The proscuitto shrunk slightly when crisped up an created a straight-jacket style wrap for the shrimp. I ended up not adding any salt to either appetizer as saltiness of the Parmesan and proscuitto would suffice.
All in all – I was very happy with the smoked cheese, shrimp and mushroom caps. Now to carry on with Atomic Buffalo Turds! (If that doesn’t pique your interest I don’t know what will!)
Smoked and Stuffed Mushroom Caps
- 24 large brown mushrooms
- 1/4 cup fresh spinach leaves, chopped finely
- 8 ounces herb and garlic cream cheese
- fresh ground pepper
- 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Preheat smoker and add hickory wood chips.
- Using a paring knife, remove stems from mushroom caps.
- In a small bowl, mix cream cheese with chopped spinach. Mound mixture into mushroom caps. Top with a bit of fresh ground pepper.
- Mix Panko and Parmesan together in a small bowl. Top each mushroom with a generous amount of bread crumbs/Parmesan mixture.
- Smoke at 225*F for 75 minutes.
- 30 small bamboo skewers, soaked at least 1 hour in water
- 1 lb. large shrimp (26-30 size – indicates the number of shrimp per pound)
- 2 pkgs supermarket brand thinly-sliced proscuitto
- Drizzle Olive Oil
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- Thaw and peel shrimp except for the tail segment. Dry the shrimp then drizzle with enough olive oil to adhere the paprika.
- Sprinkle on the smoked paprika and toss gently for even distribution.
- Uncurl a shrimp in your hand and gently skewer it resulting in a sausage link shaped shrimp.
- Wrap each shrimp with a half slice of proscuitto starting at the tail. Make sure to wrap snugly.
- Place on smoker at 225F for 75 minutes.
- Plate skewers on serving platter and zest the lemon over top. Can be served at room temperature as well.