Friday, February 16, 2007


I got home late the other night (quelle surprise), and V. had, sensibly, already eaten dinner. I wanted something quick and not too heavy, the diet having taken serious (but not fatal) injuries over the past week. I had two portobello mushrooms left in the refrigerator, and I had some cheese and bread crumbs left from the weekend. There is almost always an open bottle of red wine in the house.

How moist or dry one likes one's large mushroom caps is a matter of personal taste. I should probably have cooked mine a bit longer because I like them a bit dryer than they were. I have reflected that preference in the recipe. What I ended up eating was decidedly juicy, though delicious. Juiciness, to my palate, is fine when the mushrooms are still hot.

The portobellos came from Costco, where a 20-ounce package typically contains four portobello caps. If you look carefully, though, you can usually find a package with six caps. I prefer a slightly smaller portobello when I'm serving it whole, but this recipe would work with any size mushroom. You could easily make it with a dozen or so large white mushrooms, but I do like the portobellos better, and I can pretty much always get them for a very reasonable price at Costco.

The cheddar I used was a sharp Vermont cheddar, and it was very assertive, which is how I like my cheddars. You could certainly make the mushrooms with a milder cheese, such as whatever you use for your onion soup, and that would also be tasty. You could also do a lot more with the braising liquid. And you could pour it off when it was mostly evaporated and make a sauce, especially if you're not getting home at 9 pm and feeling the need to eat RIGHT NOW. I put my mushrooms under the broiler before the liquid was gone and then drizzled the liquid -- straight from the pan -- over the finished product as a nod to saucemakers everywhere, but I don't really think any sauce is necessary.

Braised Portobellos

2 Portobello mushroom caps, whole
Olive oil
1/3 cup red wine
1/3 cup beef broth
Black pepper
1 ounce grated cheddar
2 T. bread crumbs

Put a non-stick saute pan over medium heat. Spray the pan and both sides of the mushrooms lightly with the olive oil. Saute gill-side down for three minutes, covered. Turn over and saute, uncovered, for another three minutes.

Pour in the red wine and beef broth, cover, and cook for about five minutes. Remove cover, and let cook until liquid has evaporated.

Put the cooked mushroom caps in an ovenproof dish, with the gill side up. Sprinkle half of the grated cheddar on each mushroom, then top with the bread crumbs. Broil for 3 - 5 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the crumbs are brown.

I didn't post anything on Valentine's Day, and I have to confess that I find it a silly holiday. V. and I are on the same wavelength here, as in most areas. Originally, the girls were to have been over, as they are every Wednesday night, but due to the recent snow and the protracted school closings, I left them at their mother's house and had them Thursday night instead. This left me free to work late(r). I rightly assumed that V. would eat on his own and would not have made any provision for V-Day. As I was leaving the office, though, it struck me that the day would make a good excuse to serve a festive dessert, so I stopped at Trader Joe's and a wine store on the way home and picked up a pint of lemon sorbet and a bottle of prosecco, respectively. Then when I got home, I got out a couple of large martini glasses, put a scoop of the sorbet in each, and topped them off with the prosecco. We kept going until half of the sorbet and all of the prosecco were gone, leaving me mildly and pleasantly inebriated. V-Day is a notoriously bad day for eating out, and I have no intention of supporting the greeting card, florist, or chocolate industries on February 14th, but the sorbet cocktail (which you can eat with a spoon or sip or eat with a spoon and sip) was a good way to celebrate.

It would also be a good way to celebrate Groundhog Day, Arbor Day, and National Manatee Awareness Day, though in some of those cases, obviously, you'd want to go with a different flavor of sorbet to be more seasonally appropriate.


Blogger goblinbox said...

Not to be totally pedantic, but one can use portobello caps to make little pizzas: brush caps with olive oil and broil, then top with tomato sauce, toppings, cheese, and return to the oven until bubbly. They're delicious.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Zeke said...

That was an excellent recipe for the portobello mushrooms, had it this morning and loved it. I didn't use beef stock, just balsamic vinegar and oregano with a touch of water for more steam. Thanks for the tip.

12:53 PM  

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