Thursday, July 9, 2009

Portobello Sliders: Bringing out the Haunting and Quiet Little Voices in All of Us

As a follow up to Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, which strongly influenced my June playlist, I decided to take a step back and read his earlier work The Omnivore's Dilemma. Pollan wrote this book to shed some light on three different food chains (industrial, organic, foraged) that sustain the American population. During his examination of foraging, Pollan wrote in detail about mushroom hunting and the experience he had searching for hidden mycorrhizals.

My childhood experiences foraging for mushrooms were much easier than Pollan's. I didn't need to get up early in the morning, dig under leaves, or traipse through freshly burned forest. Pennsylvania has mushrooms everywhere. So much so that they have to ship an exorbitant amount out of the state (according to the American Mushroom Institute 61 percent of the United State's mushroom crop comes from PA). Granted most of these weren't of the hidden delicacy variety that Pollan sought out, they were just your normal run-of-the-mill white button 'shrooms. Unlike the mycophiles in The Omnivore's Dilemma, I didn't collect the wild mushrooms for cooking. I found it much more exciting to kick the caps and watch them explode. Imagine finding out later that you used to play soccer with 50 dollar a pound cash crops. That would've been tough to swallow.

Not so tough to swallow is this week's recipe of the week. Not sure when I eventually broke down, stopped destroying mushrooms that I found, and started enjoying them in my belly but I'm glad I did:

Portobello Sliders (adapted from Veg Times July/Aug. 2009)
Printable Version

8 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
3 Tbs. Olive Oil
2 Tbs. BBQ rub
2 yellow or white onions thinly sliced
1 tsp. herbes de Provence (optional)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup shredded smoked Gouda
8 rolls

A BBQ Rub Recipe:
To make your own rub combine 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of paprika, 3 Tbs of black pepper, 3 Tbs of sea salt, 2 tsp of garlic powder, 1 tsp of onion powder, 1 tsp celery seed, and 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper. Mix well. Store in the refrigerator.

1. Toss mushrooms in a bowl with 3 Tbs. of BBQ rub and 1 Tbs. of olive oil.

2. Heat remaining olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onions and herbes de Provence (if you are using). Cook for about 30 minutes stirring periodically, you want the onions to have a golden look. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper.

3. Heat grill (I used an oven grill topper) over medium heat. Coat grill with vegetable oil. Place the mushrooms stem side down on the grill. Brush mushroom tops with BBQ sauce. Grill until 'shrooms are soft and the edges are slightly charred (4-5 minutes). Flip the mushrooms and grill three to four minutes longer. Divide the gouda amongst the mushrooms, place it in the center of each stem side. Grill until the cheese is melted.

4. Warm buns on the grill, spread remaining BBQ sauce on the bottom of the buns. Top each bun with one mushroom and sauteed onions and the remaining bun.

Put a cap on that one! Speaking of mycophiles, a new documentary, Know Your Mushrooms, is coming out this year. It follows two mushroom hunters as they search for wild mushrooms.

Since we've delved into all things rural let's pay a visit to Don't Haunt this Place by The Rural Alberta Advantage. I've had this song for about a month now, planned on putting it on July's playlist, but I had to cut it at the last minute in favor of Firetop Mountain. It all works out since The Rural Alberta Advantage's first album, Hometowns, was released Tuesday. Brackish album review here.

Another band that released their first album Tuesday was We Were Promised Jetpacks. I am placing the video for Quiet Little Voices on here even though, barring an absolutely amazing last three weeks of July, it will appear on August's playlist. I like it that much.