In the interest of continuing my Mushroom Extravaganza, I decided to follow through on my idea of combining those marinated portabellas with some beef and cheese on a tasty sandwich. For those of you who are interested, here are my step-by-step instructions!
Begin with two plump portabella caps. I stemmed them and wiped them down with a damp cloth. Then I went ahead and scraped the gills out with a spoon. Just because.
It’s the whole spore thing. It still gets me.
Slice the mushrooms up thinly and tossed them into a glass pan.
Next, cut up some bell pepper. While green or red might have been prettier for photos, yellow was inexpensive and looked fresh at the grocery store. That’s right, I hate to admit it but I sacrificed photos for the sake of flavor. Or maybe that’s what I should always do!
Toss the peppers into the pan with the mushroom slices.
Now, thinly slice one medium sweet onion and add it to the mix.
Cut a lemon in half lengthwise, then lay the halves flat side down on your cutting board and slice them up into half-moons. Throw the half-moons on top of everything else.
Mash some garlic up into paste and toss it in, then pour some olive oil over the whole lot.
I over did the olive oil a bit. So don’t be like me. Try not to over oil your mushrooms. And if you add the oil and it gets absorbed immediately and everything looks a little bit too dry, it’s ok—-mushrooms soak up quite a bit of oil when you just pour it over the raw pieces like this, then they release it all later when you cook them. I mean, about 1/4 cup would have been ample. I think I added in about 1/3 to 1/2 cup. WAY too much!
Next, sprinkle over some salt, pepper, and minced, fresh herbs. You can use your favorite herb or mix of herbs. I used thyme, because thyme is the happiest herb living in my garden right now. And, actually, since the leaves were so small I didn’t bother to mince them.
I also didn’t mince them because I’m lazy. And also because I almost forgot to add them, and my hands were already covered in oil from premature mixing when I realized that I almost forgot to add them. Don’t be like me.
Now, mix everything up with your hands (which, for some odd reason, turn an alarming shade of magenta in photographs), making sure to squeeze the lemons a bit and massage all that garlic and oil goodness into the mushrooms, onions and peppers.
Try not to spend the next ten minutes licking your hands right now. Try to focus on the end result. It will be worth it.
Pop the lid on, or cover the pan with plastic wrap. Marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.
When ready to start cooking, start heating a large skillet slowly over low heat. But don’t worry, we’ll crank up the volume soon!
The best trick I learned in my Basic Knife Skills Class at the culinary school here actually had nothing to do with knives. The chef told us that if you heat your pans slowly the pores will tighten up uniformly, creating a non-stick surface without the hazards of cancer-causing nonstick surfaces. And it works! Heat your pan slowly and your food will slide off of it like butter. Like. Buttah. I’m telling you. Try it today!
While your pan is heating, slice up some beef very thinly. I used an inexpensive cut of steak that was on sale. That’s all I have to say about it. I’m no butcher! And when you are cutting the meat up this thinly and cooking it this quickly, well, the quality just doesn’t have to be top notch!
Just lay the beef on a cutting board and slice it at a bias against the grain.
(Oh, and welcome to the unfortunate world of photographing red meat against a red cutting board. If you thought my hands were freakishly pink in that photo above well, check out this action! I wouldn’t have even included this photo, but I felt like the above phrase just didn’t explain the action I’m getting after clearly enough. And you know what they say…a picture proves the rumor was true. The camera doesn’t lie. Or some other camera related cliché. You know what I’m saying.)
Putting the meat in the freezer for a couple of hours before slicing it will also help this whole process along swimmingly. Just toss it into the freezer when you start marinating the mushrooms! I also trimmed the edge of fat off before I started slicing.
Now, go ahead and crank the heat under your skillet up to medium high. When a drop of water tossed on it dances and evaporates right away, pour in some oil and immediately add the beef. Try to spread it out in a single layer. After that, leave it alone for a couple of minutes.
When the first side is seared, stir it all around and then cook just until most of the pink is gone. At this point remove the meat and add the mushroom/pepper mix to the skillet, along with a bit more oil if you really need it. Again, just keep in mind that the mushrooms will release a lot of the oil they were marinated in. Do as I say, not as I do (I used to have a boss who said that all the time. It. Drove. Me. Crazy! So I’ll try not to say it too much, I promise)!
Cook the peppers and mushrooms until they get some delicious caramelization on them, then add the beef back in and finish browning everything.
See that mushroom right in the middle that has all that gorgeous caramel color on it? Exactly. That’s what ya want.
Pile everything high on a delicious roll and top with your choice of cheese. I chose smoked fontina for some strange reason. Apparently I was feeling fancy at the grocery store. However, provolone or mozzarella would have been delightful, and some good ol’ white American cheese would have been divine. To be honest, the smoky flavor of the fontina actually turned out a little over-powering.
So there they are! The verdict? Turns out caramelized portabellas are revolutionary! When the edges got a little crunchy and turned golden brown…nnnooommmm. Combined with the rich flavor of the beef and peppers and onions….well…
I gotta tell ya, I didn’t even mind that I used too much oil.
But I wouldn’t do it again.
It turns out, mushrooms are alot less scary than I originally thought! They’re growing on me!
Now, no jokes about what mushrooms actually grow on!
Here’s the full recipe, for you experimentation enjoyment!
Steak and Pepper Sandwiches…With Mushrooms!
1 lb. steak (the cut doesn’t matter, just go with something inexpensive that looks fresh and delicious!)
2 portabella caps
1 small onion
1 bell pepper
4 large cloves garlic
2-3 tbs minced, fresh herbs
1/4 c. olive oil
salt and pepper
Sliced cheese (American, Cheddar, Provalone, Mozzarella…something tasty and mild that’ll melt and be gooey!)
Rolls (I used whole wheat hot dog buns, but a crusty French roll would have really rocked!)
Cut the mushrooms, peppers, onions and the lemon into thin slices and place into a large container. Mash the garlic into a fine paste and add. Toss in the herbs, salt and pepper. Pour the oil over all and mix everything up, giving the lemons a little squeeze to release their juices. Cover the container and place in the refrigerator to marinate for a couple of hours.
Begin heating a pan over low heat.
Slice the steak very thinly. Increase the heat to medium high, and when the pan is hot add some oil and the beef. Let sear on one side, then turn and cook until most of the pink is gone. Remove the beef to a separate dish.
Add the mushroom mixture to the pan, but try to keep any excess marinade from pouring in. Let the mushroom mixture caramelize, about 8 minutes.
Add the beef and finish browning everything. Pour any juices from the beef and any leftover marinade into the pan and let cook for about a minute more.
Pile the beef mixture on rolls and top with cheese. Eat and be happy!