Years ago, I fell in love with buffalo wings. Completely and absolutely. The spiciness combined with a rich, cooling bleu cheese dip ticked so many tasty boxes that I just couldn’t get enough. The affair grew serious, a whirlwind of flavor and heat, and I often wondered what the future held. Could it last?
And yet, as often happens, our relationship grew tumultuous after a time. Once in a while, a piece of bone might get stuck in my throat, forcing stinging tears to my eyes. Wary after several such uncomfortable incidents, my focus shifted to a boneless style of wings. This offering proved still scrumptious, and a lot less work for me besides. I thought I could be content with that.
Then tragedy of the truest sort struck: I contracted a rather serious case of food poisoning in college, and my constitution was never quite the same ever again. As a result, I grew leery of chicken in general, ever suspicious that it might betray me again.
So in old-school Facebook terms, you might say that “it’s complicated” for us. We meet up once in a while, enjoy a good meal for old times’ sake, but for the most part I’ve moved on to better iterations on the same theme. Foods I can trust, with tried and approved recipes that mimic the chicken without adding that ominous fear factor: buffalo mac & cheese, or even buffalo cauliflower, to name but some.
Late last week, inspiration thundered across my brain, heralding a potential moment of… insanity? Genius? You decide, but I credit my dear mother with the idea, though the late-night-mad-scientist execution I can still claim for my own.
Ready for this?
Uh-huh. I know.
Truth be told, I didn’t think it would work. Spoiler alert: it did. And it tastes AWESOME, and not just according to me, y’all. My poor coworkers are often subjected to my cooking experiments, and this recipe received resounding roars of approval, much to my maniacal delight.
Here’s the best part — they’re oven baked, meaning better for you than using a fryer, in addition to a lot less work overall. Meatless Monday? Covered!
Buffalo Mushroom Appetizer
Inspired by Maya Krampf’s Buffalo Cauliflower Bites recipe, found here.
This recipe is gluten-free, but please note that the replacement flour is nut–based! Allergy alert!
Prep time: 15 minutes (includes cleaning/slicing mushrooms)
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
- 1/2 lb of fresh mushrooms, rinsed and sliced into bite sized pieces (King Oysters worked best for me texturally, but other sturdy types like Chestnut will be fine, too)
- 1 egg
- 3/4 c of fine almond flour
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 c buffalo sauce
- 2-3 Tbsp butter (or margarine)
- Bleu cheese dressing (for serving)
- Celery (for serving, optional)
- 2 mixing bowls
- 1 baking sheet with parchment paper
- 1 whisk
- Plastic wrap (if you don’t have a lid for the larger of the two bowls)
- Microwave-safe measuring cup (glass preferred)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Prep a baking sheet by covering with parchment paper.
2. In first (and smaller, if you have two sizes) mixing bowl, whisk together almond flour, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and paprika.
3. Crack the egg into the second (and larger) mixing bowl; beat briefly with the whisk. Add the mushrooms to the egg and use the whisk to gently stir, ensuring that the mushrooms are coated on all sides.
4. Pour the almond flour mixture into the larger mixing bowl with the mushrooms/egg and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Make sure the bowl is sealed against leaks, and shake the mixture together. Be vigorous, but this is not a maraca, people — don’t break the bowl! Just make sure the mushrooms are nicely breaded all over before moving on to the next step.
5. Uncover the bowl and arrange the mushrooms on the baking sheet. Be careful not to lose the delicate coating at this stage!
6. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the breading has turned a golden brown and the mushrooms are tender when pressed with a fork. I turned the pan around after 20 minutes for more even browning.
7. About five minutes before the bake time elapses, add buffalo sauce and butter to a microwave-safe measuring cup. If you like thicker sauce, use 2 tablespoons butter, and for thinner sauce, use 3 tablespoons. Microwave on medium power for 10-15 seconds at a time, pausing to stir in between with a spoon (or it’ll start popping and make a mess, trust me).
8. Move mushrooms to a serving platter and pour the sauce over them. Aim for even distribution of saucy goodness.
9. Serve mushrooms warm, alongside bleu cheese dressing and celery if desired.
If you have leftovers, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for no more than two days. Chances are you won’t have any, but just in case…
Tender on the inside, crisp and spicy on the outside, consider these fun mushroom bites at your next potluck!
Just be sure to not serve them with an oak-matured wine. In all seriousness, go for a fresh Chenin Blanc or beautifully zesty Sauvignon Blanc instead.