News Column

Meatless Meals: Portobello Mushrooms

Aug. 30, 2012

Portobellos, perfect for grilling all year long, are not some exotic new type of mushroom. They are criminis, a relative of the common cultivated white mushroom, that is grown for longer. The word sounds Italian, but calling them "portobello" was simply the brainstorm of marketing agencies to glamorize the large brown fungus that growers couldn't sell. The campaign was successful and portobellos have found a prominent place on restaurant menus and supermarket produce bins.

Most of us first encountered this new mushroom in restaurant dishes sliced, sauteed and tossed with pasta; served marinated, or as grilled caps filled with sausage, marinara sauce and cheese. Now we even eat the meaty mushroom caps in place of hamburgers between buns, or as the bun.

Portobellos are commonly sold either as the whole caps with stems attached or already sliced. They have a concentrated, deep flavor with a dense, meaty texture that lends itself as a substitute for steak on the grill for both vegetarians and meat eaters. Besides grilling, these giant mushrooms impart full flavor and a satisfying texture when seared, roasted or braised.

Tips:

Refrigerate mushrooms in paper bags or toweling instead of plastic bags.

Trim the stems of whole portobellos before cooking either by cutting with a paring knife, or grabbing the stem and twisting it off. Chop the stems for use in another recipe.

Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with wet paper towels or quickly rinsing under cold tap water.

To keep portobellos from turning black when cooked, removed the black gills with a spoon before cooking.

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STUFFED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS

The portobello caps look like hamburger buns and the filling -- minus the bacon -- makes a good vegetarian option. Serve with a side salad. Mushrooms are spectacular with red wines with an earthy aroma like a California pinot noir.

12 portobellos, wiped or washed

10 ounces chanterelle mushrooms or other exotic mushroom

4 tablespoons butter

2 large shallots, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

8 slices of bacon, cut into lengths { inch wide (optional)

1 bunch of thyme

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 lemon, for squeezing

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Pull off the stems from 8 portobellos and reserve. Carefully spoon out and discard the dark gills and set aside 4 of the caps to await filling and 4 to be used as lids. Trim the reserved stems and finely chop. Finely chop the remaining portobello caps and stems and add to the already chopped stems. Split any large chanterelles in half and add to the chopped mushrooms.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a large skillet, and just as it begins to foam add the shallots and garlic, then stir in the bacon and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan and fry for an additional 6 minutes. Pick the leaves from half the bunch of thyme, add to the pan and season with salt and pepper, then add the parsley and squeeze in a little lemon juice. Turn off the heat.

Set the portobello caps for filling, cavity-side up, on a sheet pan. Fill with the cooked mushrooms and cover with the reserved mushroom lids. You will then have what look like mushroom burgers. Push a large wooden pick through each to secure. Drizzle the olive oil all over the mushrooms, sprinkle with the remaining thyme sprigs, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted from "Eat Your Vegetables" by Arthur Potts Dawson (Mitchell Beazley $29.99).

Per serving: 281 calories (69 percent from fat), 23 g fat (8.8 g saturated, 10.4 g monounsaturated), 30.5 mg cholesterol, 6.8 g protein, 16.2 g carbohydrates, 6.2 g fiber, 132 mg sodium.



Source: (c)2012 The Miami Herald Distributed by MCT Information Services


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