If it’s warm enough to walk outside without shoes or a jacket, I’m grilling dinner. There’s nothing better in my opinion than food cooked over a flame. It tastes better and there are no pans to wash afterwards. When we lived in Chicago we were deeply deprived of any private outdoor space in which we could keep a grill. But I made due inside. I had a nice little Cuisinart indoor grill and gas burners, and I used them to their full extent. One thing I absolutely love to cook with is roasted red peppers. In Chicago, I could make them year round by just sitting the little peppers on the gas flame burner to blacken the skin. But here in Indiana, world of the electric range, I’ve had to retire all my roasted red pepper recipes for the season. I know that you can blacken peppers in the broiler in the oven. I just don’t think they turn out as well so I never do it.
So the beautiful night last night got me all excited to cook up something on the grill. I’ve made these sandwiches twice last summer and really enjoyed them, so I thought it would be a nice change up from all the chicken and pork we’ve been eating. I started roasting the red pepper on the grill only to discover that my grill ran out of gas about 80% of the way through. Great. I had these beautiful mushrooms marinating and all my other high quality ingredients ready to make these sandwiches and no fire. (**This was just one way my night turned to hell last night. I also knocked over a full Brita pitcher in the fridge and spilled Jeff’s beer all over the counter top. Yeah it was a good night. No, I’m not pregnant.)
So, I pulled out my trusty indoor grill, fired it up and made due. The end result was tasty but not as good as I recall it being the last 2 times. I blame this on a not-roasted-enough red pepper and somewhat flavorless mushrooms that would’ve grilled up beautifully if the Blue Rhino tank would’ve lasted just one more night. Oh well, trust me, if your grill doesn’t betray you half way through, they’ll taste great.
And if you’ve never had portobello mushrooms, you should really try them. Back when I was a loser and wouldn’t eat mushrooms, my life was pretty boring. I credit Jeff for opening up my small town Ohio palate. Portobellos have really great flavor and a very nice texture. If my grocery store has them, your grocery store has them.
Grilled Portobello Mushroom & Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich
Preparing the Mushrooms
Buy two portobello mushrooms that do not show any signs of spoiling (no mushy, slimy spots) and have nice, undamaged gills (the produce lady at Meijer taught me this). Remove the stems – they should just pull off. You aren’t supposed to rinse your mushrooms under water. Instead take a damp cloth/paper towel and wipe the caps down. Now I have a hard time with the “unknown” of what may be lurking in the dark depths of the underside’s gills, so I give the gills quick rinse and dry – so shoot me. I’ve seen some portobellos prepared with the gills removed. You could do this as well, they are a little weird.
Marinade (adapted from Food Network):
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup white wine
1 tsp. lemon zest
Place mushrooms gill sides up in a shallow baking dish. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour over the mushrooms and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, turning once.
While the mushrooms are marinating, roast the red peppers. Place the peppers over high flame turning as each side blackens. Once pepper is completely blackened, remove from grill and immediately place in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Steam for 15-20 minutes. Remove from bowl (careful, it’s probably really hot!) and strip away the charred outer layer of skin and remove the stem and seeds. Cut into 2 pieces. Set aside.
Pat mushrooms dry and place gill sides up on grill over a medium/medium-low flame. Grill slowly for about 20 minutes. Flip and grill for 5-10 more minutes.
Assembling the Sandwiches
2 hamburger buns
4-6 large basil leaves
roasted red pepper
2 grilled portobellos
Place the grilled mushroom on the bun. Top first with half the roasted red pepper, then with two 1/4 inch slices of fresh mozzarella and finally with basil. I like my sandwiches dry, but I think adding mayo or pesto to the bun would be nice for all you condiment lovers out there.