Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ahh Bella, How I Love Thee....

For me, mushrooms of any kind have always been right up there with tofu as my least desirable edibles.  I've had a real change of heart since I learned how to turn them into burgers. Who knew?

I have been having an affair with portobello mushrooms. I've configured them every way I could imagine and while the food was tasty, it wasn't a winning recipe. Not until I stole Marie Callendar's version of the giant fungus. Now it's worth blogging about. Let me tell you how it came to be.

There was a day when I had a doctor appointment close to Marie Callendar's Restaurant. Considering I hadn't eaten lunch, I stopped by, thinking I'd have some pie and coffee. Before I could mention my desire, a menu was plopped next to me. Thinking I'd just give it a once-over strictly for fun, I opened it up and began looking at the pictures. And there it was. A portobello mushroom burger. The photo set me to drooling. (I hate it when that happens, it's so un-ladylike) and the next thing I knew, I heard myself ordering it.

I was somewhat taken aback when the burger was set in front of me. No kidding, the whole thing had to be more than two inches tall. One bite convinced me it was meaty, juicy, and while it didn't taste anything like a hamburger, it was so good I considered taking another to-go so I could have it for supper. Then along comes the waiter, asking how everything was. I did my ooh and ahh thing and then asked him to see if the chef would give out the recipe. He hesitated a moment, then agreed and off he went. A few minutes later he informed me the mushrooms were oven roasted with a covering of fresh thyme and rosemary. I knew that wasn't the real recipe because I could detect hints of basalmic vinegar and olive oil and chipotle. Chefs are so tricky.

First chance I got, I cooked up the biggest portobello I could find, using my Marie Callendar knock-off recipe. Can I say it was delicious? Or even outstanding? Or simply the best mushroom burger I'd eaten since the restaurant one? The other portobello burgers I'd tried paled in light of this new find. I hope you'll give it a try and then write and tell me what you think. After all, you know what Shakesphere wrote  in Romeo and Juliet. "A portobella by any other name would taste as good." At least I think that's how it went.

The roasted portobello looks enough like meat to fool the eye. It won't fool the palette, but the whole package is so juicy good, you won't care. I served my burger with corn on the cob, oven roasted in its husk. Can I say delicioso?

PORTOBELLO BURGER---My Restaurant Knockoff 
Portobello mushrooms, 1 per serving. Remove the tough, woody stems. Place the mushroom caps in a zip lock bag for marinating.
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 cloves of garlic, chopped

Allow the mushrooms to marinate at least 30 minutes. An hour is better.

Set the oven to 400 degrees. Lay the mushrooms on a cookie sheet lined with foil (easy cleanup), with the top facing up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for approximately 20 minutes. Fewer mushrooms will take less time. Gigantic ones will take more time. You will know they are done when they look like a hamburger, all brown and toasty. Save the marinade for another use. Most recipes I've tried say to cook the mushrooms only a few minutes on each side. For me, it wasn't enough, as they still looked and tasted like mushrooms. I wanted a beefy taste and that's what I got via roasting for a length of time.

Make the mayo for the buns. I used 1/4 cup vegan mayo and 1/4 tsp. chipotle powder. Stir together. If you like things spicier, add more. This ratio was fine for me.

Warm the buns. I purchased extra large buns because the bella's were so big. Smaller bella's, use smaller buns.

I put my mushroom burger together the old fashioned way with generous portions of tomatoes, onions, and lettuce. I left off the ketchup, mustard and pickles because the bella was zingy enough having been marinated in the vinegar. You do as tastes best to you.

If you can't find chipotle powder at your grocery store, you can purchase it from is what I did.

Copyright 2011 by Sandra L. Keith, All rights reserved
Top photo is courtesy of MS Word Clip Art
Middle photo is the property of the author and may not be reproduced without permission.

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