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Portobello Parmesan

February 24, 2011

It’s more alliteration, yay!

If there’s one thing I can’t pass up, it’s a good bargain on portobello mushrooms. They’re typically such a luxury item, here or back in California, so if I see them at a reasonable price, I snatch ’em right up.

Of course, then I have to figure out what to do with them. Mushroom burgers are the obvious choice, especially with a nice balsamic marinade and/or pepper jack cheese. I wanted something a little more interesting this time. Something Italian. Something breaded.

I found this recipe on One Perfect Bite. I messed around with the seasonings, but I really want to give her credit for the cooking method. I thought about the usual eggplant parmesan method, but I figured frying wouldn’t work too well. Mushrooms would just soak-up the oil. Also, I’m scared of frying. Not necessarily for health reasons, although there are plenty of those. You see, my kitchen is not very well ventilated, and I keep seeing pictures like this on the internet:

Anyway, kudos to my fellow-food blogger for the baking-on-rack method. It’s a lot less messy than frying and you don’t have to babysit each individual piece or try to keep the first batch warm while the second batch is cooking. The baking method also delivers a great texture – crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

These mushrooms were so good that I ate two of them, no problem, along with some pasta and salad. However, if you were serving a few other dishes, you could probably get away with one per person.

First, a mincing show, featuring parsley, basil and garlic.

Combine the herbs with finely grated parmesan, dried breadcrumbs, oregano, marjoram, paprika, salt and pepper. The fresh herbs will tend to clump up, so mix this really well. A fork helps separate-out the lumps.

The stars of the show, washed. Yes, I wash my mushrooms. Jacques Pepin said I could. Just wash them right before you use them, and in this case, dry them well with a paper towel to avoid soggy breading.

Dip them in beaten egg, turning them over a few times to fully coat.

Then dip in the breadcrumb mixture, again trying to coat all sides. I even pressed the crumbs into the mushrooms a bit to make them stick.

Brush a metal rack with olive oil and place the mushrooms on top. Lightly drizzle the tops with olive oil. (The original recipe called for cooking spray, which will also work.)

Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes until the tops start to brown.

Very carefully, turn over each mushroom and layer on some parmesan, mozzarella and tomato sauce.

Bake for another 10 minutes until the cheese is melty and the mushrooms are heated through. Serve over pasta with some extra sauce and fresh basil.

Portobello Parmesan

Makes 4 mushrooms, enough for 2-4 people depending on what else you are eating.
Adapted from One Perfect Bite

½ cup dried breadcrumbs
¼ cup parmesan, finely grated, plus 4 teaspoons for topping
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
¼ cup (scant) fresh basil, finely minced (Plus 4-6 extra basil leaves for garnish, sliced into strips)
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely minced (preferably flat-leaf parsley)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
4 portobello mushroom caps, cleaned, well-dried and stems removed
¾ cup mozzarella, grated
1-2 cups tomato sauce (depending on whether you are also using sauce for pasta)
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet or pan with foil and place a metal rack on top of it. Brush metal rack well with olive oil.
2. In a wide bowl, combine breadcrumbs, ¼ cup parmesan, garlic, basil, parsley, oregano, marjoram, paprika, salt and pepper.
3. Beat eggs in a bowl wide enough for portobellos.
4. Dip each mushroom in egg, making sure to coat all sides, including the “gills.” Then dip in breadcrumb mixture, pressing breadcrumbs onto the mushroom a bit to encourage sticking.
5. Place mushrooms stem-side down on the metal rack and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until the tops are golden brown, 15-20 minutes.
6. Remove pan from the oven and carefully turn over each mushroom so the stem side is facing up. Top each mushroom with 1 teaspoon parmesan, a small handful of mozzarella and a couple tablespoons of tomato sauce.
7. Return to the oven and bake until cheese is melted and bubbly and mushrooms are cooked-through, 10-15 minutes. Serve over some pasta with extra sauce, heated up, on the side.

Note about cooking times: I cooked these for the minimum time (15 minutes stem-side down and 10 minutes stem-side up). I was happy with the result; the mushrooms were hot, but still very firm. If you like your ‘bellos a little more well-done, I would leave them for the maximum cooking time.

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