Portobello, Cremini and Maitake Mushroom Recipes

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When I was a vegetarian in high school, I got so sick of badly prepared portobello mushrooms! Watery stuffed portobellos, fibrous grilled portobellos, dry portobello sandwiches, spongy portobello salads. I avoided them for a while, not realizing just how good they could be.

The portobello is a plain old brown mushroom, but harvested a little later than a regular cremini. It’s older, more mature, a little more intense in flavor, and much bigger. And the thick, hunky slab it becomes is ideal for certain methods of cooking.

Hetty McKinnon’s mushroom Parm is the perfect match of mushroom and technique — each one filled with tomato sauce, roasted with lots of olive oil and covered in a layer of bubbly golden cheese and bread crumbs.

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The mushrooms don’t end up watery because the oven temp is high (425 degrees) and the surface area of the sheet pan means they have space to really simmer away and cook until tender. Bonus: If you make more tomato sauce than you need — and I think you should always make more tomato sauce than you need — then you can get a couple more snacks or meals out of it.

For example:

Polenta + white beans simmered in tomato sauce + soft herbs + shower of grated cheese

Fried serranos and onion + tomato sauce + tortilla chips + a fried egg

Baguette sliced lengthways, broiled, rubbed with garlic clove + tomato sauce + cheese

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All I want right now are cozy mushroom dishes, and the next thing on my list is Kay Chun’s mushrooms and dumplings, covered with dollops of buttery biscuitlike dough that get crisp on top, but stay wonderfully soggy and stew-soaked at the bottom.

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The stew itself is built on leeks softened in butter — one of my top winter kitchen smells! — and plenty of mushrooms (both fresh and dried) and vegetables that are simmered in broth. It’s straightforward, though you could complicate it just a bit if you want to clean out the fridge or just throw in even more vegetables: a bunch of chopped turnip greens, ribbed Swiss chard (save the stems), collards, or maybe even a can of beans or chickpeas.

If you’re looking for something equally splendid, but vegan, Bryant Terry and Rahanna Bisseret Martinez have a beautiful recipe for grits with mushrooms and chard (including the stems!) that uses oat milk instead of dairy to get a nice, creamy texture. They call for maitakes, or hen of the woods, which are absolutely delicious if you can find them.

And if you can’t, guess what? Some sliced portobellos would be really, really good, too.

Go to the recipe.

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I was in Washington State a couple weeks ago for Christmas, and my parents pulled out a pound of frozen huckleberries they’d been saving — deep purple, incredibly sweet, tiny things. We weren’t sure what to do with them, but we were inspired by Melissa Clark’s crumble tip, and reached for an already baked topping (my dad’s homemade granola!).

It was crumbly and flavorful and super crunchy, and now I want to bake a bunch of winter fruits in the exact same way — pears, persimmons, apples tossed with some cranberries — and have it for breakfast. Thanks for reading The Veggie, and see you next week!

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