Sunday, June 26, 2011

Marinated Portobello Mushrooms

Marinated mushrooms, properly made, are among the most satisfying condiments, and among condiments, they are one of very few that also stand on their own as a side dish, a snack, or a quick salad. Unfortunately, most often they are made half-heartedly, or perhaps following some flaccid, anemic recipe. Certainly the ones I've tried that came from a jar have fallen short of even the lowest expectations. All of which serves to make my oft-repeated point: "Learn to cook and eat at home."

I came across a very good deal on some unusually fresh Portobello mushrooms yesterday, and this inspired me to invent a marinating formula that would bring out their wild-woodsy, meaty character, based on an Italian method I've used before. I deviated considerably, because I was shooting for a richer, more full-bodied effect than might work with "funghi marinati" made with button mushrooms.

I began by slicing the mushrooms roughly a half-inch thick, so they would retain their fleshy individuality, and not disappear into the dish. I heated some EVOO in a large pot with minced garlic, Celtic salt, freshly ground black, red, white, and green peppercorns, several bay leaves, smoked paprika, and porcini mushroom powder. As soon as the fragrances began to waft up from the pot, I figured the oil was infused enough, so I added the mushrooms, a little vegetable broth, and a splash of 18-year-old balsamic. I brought the mixture to a simmer and covered the pot. After about a minute or two, I uncovered the pot and began to gently turn the mushrooms with a silicone spatula, allowing the pieces at the top to take a turn in the liquid. Once all the mushrooms had thoroughly wilted but were still chewy, I added my secret ingredient (a tiny knob of spicy dark chocolate), and shook the pot back and forth until it was thoroughly incorporated.

I took the pot off the heat, let it cool to room temperature, and then stirred in more EVOO, some finely diced red onion, and chopped rosemary and parsley. This I let sit for at least ten minutes, until the flavors had begun to meld and mellow. The taste was deep, dark, and delicious, with pungent notes and a texture somewhere between raw and cooked. Sweet success. The best part is that I had started with three pounds of mushrooms, so now I've got enough to last several days.

It's a major step toward conscious eating when you have a few ready-snacking dishes in the refrigerator. This way there is always a good choice when you open the door, so your mind won't immediately write off the entire contents of the fridge, and start suggesting you gorge on a bag of chips or nuked popcorn. In case you haven't noticed, your mind is not your friend. It's wise to take a few carefully considered creative steps to preempt those idiotic ideas that inevitably come up when a sane alternative is not present!


  1. This sounds really great!!!
    How can I get EVOO in Cape Town?

  2. That's Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Any specialty store (and most supermarkets)will have it.

  3. thank you for your share, it looks very good.^ ^

  4. Those look to be the most flavourful marinated mushrooms I have ever seen!
    - Brittany

  5. I have to bookmark all these posts. Everything I try from this blog is fantastic! I have found that I prefer making food from your blog - it allows me to be creative & hone into my own cooking skills & whatever may be in frig. Even made my own Thai curry paste the other day for the bitter melon recipe. Our Thai friend was the judge of that dish, & he was amazed at how stupendous it turned out. It was as you described The bitterness with the various other flavors had the taste buds doing a happy jig! Wish you would also make a book from this blog; I would buy the series & give it away as presents. Your other cook books are great also but I find myself cooking from blog more than anything else. Thanks:D Barb Huelsbeck