Saturday, August 16, 2008

Portobello by request

I got a request for a mushroom sandwich recipe and so here it is. Well, not the whole sandwich, just the mushroom preparation. The choice of bread and condiments and fixin's will be left up to you. However, one pointer: the mushrooms will be sturdy and toothsome but your teeth will slide right through them, too, so don't choose a chewy bread. The bread should "hold up," but yield easily.


6 portobello mushrooms (naturally, you want to choose mushrooms that are totally intact); 6 cloves of garlic, whole; fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs; olive oil; kosher salt and pepper

Mushroom preparation*:
(you'll need a spoon and two hands)

Plop the mushroom into your palm, gills up. With your other hand, gently twist the stem until it pops off. Remarkable, huh? It pops clean off.

Next, with the side of a spoon, gently scrape out the gills. Scrape around the mushroom; don't scrape from the center outward. Keep scraping until you've removed all the gills you can, while keeping the cap intact.

Roasting preparation:

Get yourself a cookie sheet, preferably a lipped one, wipe it with olive oil, and lay your mushrooms down, stem-side up. If you haven't damaged your caps, you should see before you six, shallow little bowls of woodsy gorgeousness. Give each bowl a dash of olive oil (thumb over spout style), and don't be chincey about it. Now place your herb sprigs and garlic cloves into each woody bowl, and hit each one with some fresh ground pepper and kosher salt, a dash.

Roast them at 400 degrees until they are quite shrunken, about twenty minutes, maybe longer; keep your eye on them and trust your nose. When you start to smell gorgeousness, check them. If they are quite shrunken, pull them out and let them cool at room temperature. If they are a mess of wateriness, keep going. If they are only a little watery, go ahead and pull them out. If there is enough mushroom juice in your pan and you want to save it to spoon over your sandwich later, go for it.

Slicing the mushrooms:

This is the part of the process that requires a little skill. Get the sharpest knife in your drawer, or the pretty sharp knife you feel most comfortable with, and lay one mushroom down on the cutting board, stem-side down this time. Now, with a flat hand, gently hold the mushroom in place by setting your palm on it. Slicing portobellos with this technique generally requires some stooping, so stoop down and put your vision on the same plane as your mushroom. Now you can see what you are doing. Turn your knife sideways, or parallel to the mushroom, and starting from the top of the cap, make the thinnest slices you can. Let me explain:

Start with the tip of the knife and slice through the mushroom in several strokes that describe a scythe shape or a "rocking" motion. If you are expert, you can get at least five, paper thin slices. If you are making a sandwich, you can happily accept two slices per cap, but more happily three.

Now, if there are any left over bits, eat them right up.

The sandwich:

Since you've got a bevy of fine portobello slices, why not layer them up? You might go the simple route and layer one mushroom slice on top of another, or you might alternate layers with something like, say, thin slices of roasted, patty-pan squash (you can do the squash just like you did the mushrooms). Then, butter up a soft ciabatta and you've got yourself a nice sandwich.

If your mushrooms are dirty, with a slightly moistened paper towel or a coffee filter, gently wipe off any woodsy humus that offends you. Then, blot dry.

1 comment:

lorelei said...

I lack the ability to take a decent fan pic, but damn, this sandwich rocked my world!!!