Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Grilling In The Rain

Recently, it feels like the sun and the clouds have been playing tag with each other. Here in CT, our weather patterns have gone something like this: Day 1 - scorching sun, Day 2 - thunderstorms, Day 3 - back to cloudless skies, Day 4 - rain all day ... and so on. If I was a more organized and focused person, I'd know to plan my blog-related cooking adventures for the sunny days. But since my natural state of being is chaotic laziness, I find myself craving grilled burgers on the days that it's pouring outside.

DH's latest photography contribution - a few kind words from you is all his ego needs to become completely insufferable, so be careful when praising this one!

So what to do when outdoor grilling is not an option? George Foreman to the rescue! Yup, you heard me. I've now become a GF proponent. I never thought I was the sort of person to jump on any kind of bandwagon, but I think this one bears exception. Who woulda thunk it?!

When you call it a "lean, mean FAT grilling machine" it just sounds like it grills fat. There's something wrong with the English grammar there. Sorry folks, I'm the daughter of a teacher - and I get this way sometimes!

You don't need a grill of any kind to make these healthy yet satisfying burgers; just a grill pan or a large skillet on the stove will work just as well.

The first portobello mushroom burger I ever tried was at the Cheesecake Factory, ages ago. And I still remember it being a complete revelation, because it was so damn good! At that moment, it was the best burger I'd ever had. Not just best veggie burger - simply best burger ever. Period. It was packed with flavor from all the different toppings and sauces, and it was so thick and meaty and filling. That's why, when I saw this recipe for Portobello Burgers on the gorgeous site Ezra Pound Cake, I went a-runnin' to get out my GF grill.

Pretty Perfect Portobello Burgers (check out Rebecca's original recipe here)
Serves 2

Click here for printable recipe

2 tbsp store-bought pesto (or use freshly made, if you can!)
1/4 cup real mayo, or slightly more
2 sourdough, multi-grain or ciabatta rolls, split horizontally (or any other fresh rolls, but not the too-soft & thin Wonder hamburger buns)
2 portobello mushrooms, stemmed and dark gills scraped out
Olive oil
2 slices provolone cheese (or any other sliced cheese of your choice, provided that it melts well)
Slices of roasted red peppers from a jar
2 cups arugula or baby spinach (or both)


1. Get all your ingredients ready. Mix together the pesto and mayo and set aside. Take out two large pieces of roasted red peppers from the jar, and pat dry between paper towels.

2. Heat up your stove-top grill pan or skillet. Brush the portobellas on both sides with olive oil and place them on the grill, cap-side down, for 4 mins. Then turn them over to the other side for another 4 mins. In the last min, cover the caps with one slice each of the cheese - so that it melts gently over the mushrooms.

3. Toast the buns, cut-side down, on the same grill pan for 2 mins.

4. Assemble: Slather both sides of each bun with the pesto-mayo. Place the portobello with melted cheese on the bottom half of a bun. Layer on the roasted red peppers. Pile on the arugula/spinach. Then cover with the top half of your bun. Serve immediately with your favorite type of oven-fries - Oreida's Seasoned Crinkle Cut Fries would be my personal choice.

Verdict: DH was a skeptic when I said we'd be having portobello burgers for dinner. He'd never experienced the Cheesecake Factory one y'see. But he was game enough to try my version. Just goes to show that after 4 years of matrimony, at least he trusts my food choices implicitly (for all you young brides out there, remember to pray for patience!). And he was rewarded because these burgers were brilliant! Better than I'd hoped for! I guarantee you won't miss the meat. Everyone will enjoy the play of flavors here, between the crisp peppery-ness of the arugula, to the smoky taste of roasted red peppers, the festive pesto-mayo, melted provolone (I'll try pepper-jack next time), and finally, the meaty mouthful from the grilled portobellas.