Star Ingredient

Star Ingredient: Portobello Mushroom

Finally, a Star Ingredient that you think you know all about…well, maybe not EVERYTHING!  Not to worry, Johnny Kat is here to help fill in all the blanks!  First off, let’s start with the fact that a portobello mushroom is really a grown-up version of a brown cremini mushroom!  When it gets to 4” – 6” in diameter it can be called a portobello! The name really came from a large marketing campaign in the 1980s (which also started the whole portobello vs. portobella confusion).  So, those baby bella mushrooms you see out in the market stands are in fact just juvenile cremini mushrooms!  

Loved By Both Carnivores And Vegetarians Alike!

Like I said, the portobello mushrooms is simply the fully mature version of a cremini mushroom.  It’s a large dark brown mushroom that has an open cap, with visible deep brown gills on the underside.  Since it has had more time to grow, it loses more of its moisture so it’s not as watery and has a slightly more pronounced mushroom flavor.  This also gives it a more meatier texture that lends itself for grilling or to being stuffed with all sorts of ingredients and then roasted.  Meat-lovers enjoy it…vegetarians love it…it’s an EXTREMELY versatile mushroom!  It’s also one of the most widely consumed mushrooms in the world.

It Tastes Good But Is It Good For Me?

Absolutely…as if Chef Diana would ever lead us astray from eating healthy!  Portobello mushrooms contain Vitamins D & B6, as well as, protein, copper (necessary for producing and storing iron), selenium (a mineral known for its antioxidant properties), potassium (which aids in lowering blood pressure, phosphorus and niacin.

Portobellos are perfect for whatever diet you’re following, too, whether it be plant-based, low-carb, vegan or somewhere in between.  They provide plant-based protein and many essential nutrients.  Cooking with them is one of the best ways to “crowd out” unhealthier foods in your diet like processed red meat or difficult-to-digest soy, dairy and grain products.

To Clean Or Not To Clean?

Remove the mushrooms from any wrapping, spread them out on a tray and cover with paper toweling.  Do not moisten the toweling or the mushrooms.  Keep them in the refrigerator in an area that allows the air to circulate.  They should keep about 5 – 6 days.  Before you use them use a towel or brush to knock off any particles that might be on them.  Chef Diana has a whole blog post devoted to cleaning your mushrooms.  Click HERE to check it out.

Cooking Tips

Where to even begin, from raw to cooked, there are soooo many ways to enjoy portobellos!  They can be grilled, broiled, oven-roasted or sautéed.  Marinate and grill them whole to make a vegetarian burger or hollow out and use them as a pizza crust or bowl for other fillings.  Chop and mix them into soups, stews, pasta or rice dishes, sliced into salads or minced into a filling in pastries. 

One last neat fact is that cooked portobellos can be frozen and will keep for several months.  Place them in freezer containers or bags excluding as much air as possible.  (Uncooked mushrooms do not freeze well however).

So no matter how you use this week’s Star Ingredient, you’ll definitely enjoy it!

-Johnny Kat