Every week at the Chicago Green City Market in Lincoln Park, the oldest mushroom farm in the Midwest, The River Valley Ranch, presents a medley of mushrooms.
A plethora (I couldn’t resist) of pungent mushrooms every shape and color, Crimini, White Button, Portabella, Bellas, Shitake, Oyster, in an array of shades from oyster white to forest brown. Some shriveled with stem like tendrils; others plump as a cartoon umbrella.
Jessy, the cute, young merchant, focused on weighing the bags of mixed mushrooms for the Chef in front of me, says to store fresh mushrooms in a brown paper bag in the lower part of the refrigerator, but not in the crisper.
“Mushrooms hate plastic!” The mushroom maven next to me adds. ”That’s when they turn slimy.”
Fresh mushrooms should last up to one week.
Brush caps with a damp towel before using. To remove the gills found on the underside of the mushroom cap or not? This is a personal choice based on color, the gills are darker and crumble if handled roughly, but gills have many nutrients, so unless your filling is bulky, do not remove them.
Use these Portabella (a.k.a. Portobello) beauties for a “Portabella Bar.”
Prepare the Portabellas:
1 portabella mushroom per serving, 4 inch diameter, remove stems, brush clean with damp towel
Lightly oil topside of caps
Line the Portabella Bar up with ‘toppers.’ Let your imagination guide you.
‘Toppers’ I’ve tested and enjoyed: Bruschetta, Green Olive Tapénade, Basil Pesto, Garlic Scape Pesto, Annie’s Naturals Baja Lime Marinade, Italian dressing marinade, and Soy Vey marinade.
Fill Portabella underside cavity with ‘topper’ of your choice.
Take orders or encourage your guests to create their own.
Place on the grill, 5 to 7 minutes medium heat, do not turn over.
Bob, my son-in-law that hunts, fishes, and listens to Country and Western Music, says, “It’s better than any burger I’ve ever had.” And he grew up in Sandwich!
Serve Portabellas on toasted buns, with sides of roasted Cuban Corn on the cob, a beautiful salad, and lots of Sangria with fruits from the Market, but don’t forget the iced tea and beer.
For Garlic Scape Pesto Portabellas with Provolone:
Spread the pesto generously over the cavity.
Pestos permeate the gills melting between the folds for extra flavor. Use the same technique for all Pestos and Tapéndes. Top with tomato, cheese, then grill.
Green Olive Tapénade filling with Old Kentucky Tomme Goat Cheese* Use cheeses that melt well, Sharp Cheddar, Provolone, on top of the tomato.
The longer you grill Portabellas the meatier they get, about 4 to 7 minutes.
Marinate Portabellas in advance in vinegar based salad dressings or marinade, enough to cover Portabellas in a plastic zip-lock bag (breaking the rules again.)
Marinate 45 minutes or longer.
Portabellas absorb seasonings and the flavor is enhanced.
Top grilled Portabella with slices of avocado and summer’s tomatoes.
Portabellas are from The River Valley Ranch. http://www.RiverValleyKitchens.com
*Easy melting Ole Kentucky Tomme Goat cheese from Capriole, Inc. goat farm in Greenville, Indiana. http://www.capriolegoatcheese.com
Find them at Chicago’s Green City Market or on the World Wide Web.