Cookout: Portobello Burgers and Grilled Corn

This is what’s on the grill for our basic casual summer cookout: Portobello burgers and corn-on-the-cob. There are some excellent veggie burgers out there and I often have some on the grill too, but Portobello mushrooms are irresistible, so no matter what else you throw on the grill, make room from some of these!

Portobello burgers for two (increase amounts according to the number of people).

2 large Portobello mushroom caps, stem removed. I prefer marinating the mushrooms in white wine, having experimented with both white and red. Vinho Verde is a crisp, citrusy, effervescent wine from Portugal. Casal Garcia is my favorite winery for this, but there are others which are good. It makes a good marinade for the mushrooms, when you add a little olive oil to it. I use 1/2 cup wine and a drizzling of olive oil (sorry, I never measure this) for 2 big ‘shrooms. A baggie is good for marinating: I can swish it all together and around to make sure the liquid gets into the gills and coats the cap. You can get away with a relatively modest amount of marinade if you’re using a baggie, whereas I’ve found that it takes a lot to get coverage in a bowl. If I use a big bowl, it takes a large volume of liquid and when I used a small but deep bowl, to my chagrin I discovered that the mushrooms were wedged in hovering above the marinade in the bottom! The mushrooms should marinate in the fridge for at least a few hours before cooking. If you want to marinate them the day before, that’s okay, too.

What about seasonings? What you put in the marinade depends on what you’re going to put on them later, on the grill. You can marinate them in flavored olive oil and or add dried herbs to the marinade, but if you’re going to add any seasonings or embellishments while grilling it’s real easy to get flavor overkill and clashes. Having herbed the living hell out of the marinade and then added herbed cheese when they’re on the grill, I’ve learned my lesson.

My own preference is to go light on the marinade herbs and added Cheesy Girl vegetarian chevre to the mushroom caps halfway through the cooking time. Cheesy Girl makes cheese with a variety of seasonings and though you could echo some of those in the marinade, that’s not necessary and may be too much. Really, for my tastes, the herbed cheese with the simple unseasoned marinade described above, is perfection. You will, of course, want to experiment with your own herbs and local cheeses. 😀

Grill the mushrooms, gill side down first, for about 6 minutes on each side. When you turn the mushroom gill side up, add the cheese, then grill another 6 minutes. We usually grill with the grill covered for both mushrooms and corn. The mushrooms will be very juicy and will continue to leak juice for some minutes after you take them off the grill. (For this reason I don’t recommend slapping them on a bun straight from the grill.) I like mayo on these burgers: it does a good job of keeping the bun from getting soggy and the mild flavor complements the mild cheese.

For grilling corn I prefer unhusked corn: it’s just easier to season and deal with. If the corn hasn’t been shucked, shuck the corn, stripping off the silks. If you don’t get every single one, don’t worry, they’ll usually cook off on the grill. Put two spoonfuls of spreadable margarine on a plate, splash on some lime juice, then sprinkle on your favorite chili powder. (I use Mexene chili powder.) Mush and stir it all together on the plate, then roll the corn in it, slather it on with your hands if you want to, to get the corn cobs covered well.

Grill the corn directly on the grill for about 6 minutes total, turning frequently, with the grill covered between turnings. The corn will be nicely seasoned with smoke. 🙂

Other side dishes you may want to make, particularly if you’re feeding a crowd: BBQ Baked Beans, Frankenslaw, and Potato Salad.

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