I am in love mushrooms, but my favorite mushrooms are big juicy portobellos. Add in some thyme, red wine, and onions, and I’m all yours.
When immature and white, this mushroom may be known as common mushroom, white mushroom button mushroom, cultivated mushroom, table mushroom, and champignon mushroom. When immature and brown, it may be known variously as Swiss brown mushroom, Roman brown mushroom, Italian brown mushroom, cremini/crimini mushroom, chestnut mushroom, and baby bella.
When marketed in its mature state, the mushroom is brown with a cap measuring 4–6 inches. This form is commonly sold under the names portobello mushroom, portabella mushroom, and portobella mushroom. Thank you, Wikipedia. Who knew?
I wanted to add a portobello mushroom recipe to my cookbook but lamented on the best way to prepare them. I got out my handy dandy cast iron, but then I remembered that I had my little-used Cameron stovetop smoker. Within minutes I had fired up my gas stove, added some portobello mushroom caps and cherry wood chips, and 25 minutes later, I was floating in mushroom heaven. And no worries if you don’t have a smoker. If you have a medium pot with a lid, a steamer basket, some foil, and some wood chips, you’re set! Just so you know, there may not be a lot of variety, but you can buy wood chips at almost any grocery store.
Finally, I went back and forth between topping it with a simple red wine sauce, or a cabernet demi-glace, aka a Marchand de Vin Sauce. I opted for the latter. It didn’t disappoint, either. With just a tang of the sherry vinegar marinade shining through the cherry wood’s mild and fruity smoke, it was the perfect balance of flavor. I didn’t make my own demi-glace, but you certainly can. I will work on that recipe next!
The key to this recipe is the marinade. Mushrooms are highly porous so you don’t need to marinade them long. I also use a great mushroom brush to remove any dirt.
- 4–5 Portobello mushroom caps, brushed with stems removed.
For the Marinade:
- 1/3 cup dry sherry vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp smoke paprika
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp steak sauce (I like this one)
Red Wine Demi-Glace:
- 2 tbsp vegan butter
- 2 medium shallots, minced
- One bouquet garni made from 1 celery stalk, 2 fresh thyme sprigs, 2 fresh parsley sprigs, 1 bay leaf * (see note section)
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup classic roasted vegetable demi-glace
- 1/2 cup cabernet sauvignon
- 1 tsp salt kosher
- 1/8 tsp white pepper ground
Whisk marinade ingredients together in a small bowl. Add mushrooms to a shallow baking dish or a gallon size ziplock bag and top with marinade. Set aside and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
While mushrooms are marinating, make the demi-glace.
- Warm a medium-size sauté pan over medium heat.
- Add butter. When butter begins to foam, add shallots, salt, and white pepper and bouquet garni. Sauté until shallots have softened, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add vegetable stock, demi-glace, and wine.
- Stir well and turn up the heat. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the stock has reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
- If using a smoker, add wood chips to the bottom of the smoker. If using a pan to smoke, jump down to the notes section.
- Place the drip tray on top of the wood chips inside the smoker base. Spraying the tray with non-stick vegetable spray, or place a sheet of aluminum foil to make for easier clean-up.
- Place the wire rack on top of the drip tray. Remove mushrooms from the marinade and arrange them on the wire rack. Slide lid closed.
- Smoke for 20 minutes over medium heat.
- Remove bouquet from demi-glace and taste for seasoning. Carefully remove mushrooms from the smoker and transfer them to a cutting board.
- Slice mushrooms into 1/2″ slices. Plate the mushrooms and spoon 3-4 Tbsp’s of demi-glace over the top.
Never wash mushrooms with water! They are like a sponge and soak up water lowering the flavor. People think it’s dirt that’s on them, but it’s peat moss, and it’s all pasteurized. Portobello’s are usually pretty clean, but I use a mushroom brush for other types.
A bouquet garni is simple to make. Place herbs together in a small stack and tie stems together with a short bit of kitchen twine. Tie it tightly, as the herbs will shrink as they cook.
If pan smoking:
Place a double layer of foil in the bottom of a medium pot. Place wood chips on top, in a little mound. Place strainer basket over top. Place mushrooms in the strainer basket.
Place the pot on the stove and turn to medium high or high heat. Leave uncovered until you see smoke. When you see smoke, tightly cover. Wait 30 seconds, then turn heat to medium.