I don’t cook like this.
But because I was testing a recipe for Cook’s Illustrated, I knew I had to follow their instructions as much as I can to get the results they were trying to achieve. When I first got this recipe in my inbox, I thought, No meat? I was ready to reject the test but decided at the last minute that maybe a meatless recipe (well, except for the pancetta chunks) will be more of a challenge for me. Besides, I still shudder when I look at mushroom pleats, so I thought this was a good attempt to overcome my so-called fear.
America’s Test Kitchen’s goal with this stuffed portobello mushroom recipe was to get an intense mushroom flavor without the gumminess of other recipes they’ve tried. I think I achieved that when I tried it at home, but it sure did take a lot of time and ingredients to try and get everything right.
After cooking, I answered the questions associated with the recipe and put in my two cents. I noted the adjustments and substitutions I made. I used more oil than the recipe suggested when brushing the mushrooms for roasting. I also used salted butter instead of unsalted, so I eliminated the required salt when I was rendering the pancetta. It also called for lemon juice, but I didn’t see it used in the steps. An honest mistake? Perhaps. It could have been a test to see if I was paying attention. I realize now that writing recipes that everyone will interpret correctly is a difficult job. What makes sense to me may not mean the same for other people. I wonder how many people out there try the recipes on my blog and get confused? Are you one of them?
Below is my edited version of their recipe. Click any of the photos for the complete set.
6 portobello mushrooms, stems removed and reserved, caps wiped clean with a paper towel
3 slices of white bread, pulsed in food processor to make breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of pancetta, diced
cheddar cheese, chopped to fill 1/2 cup
2 tbsps heavy cream
1/4 cup sherry
1/4 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp thyme leaves
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp butter
salt, pepper, oil
1. Move the oven rack in the upper-middle position. Preheat oven to 400Âº with a baking sheet inside.
2. Make a criss-cross slit on each of the 4 portobellos. Brush both sides with oil. Chop the other 2 and set aside for later. Place the 4 mushrooms on the pre-heated baking sheet, pleats side up. Roast until their edges are a bit brown, 10 minutes. Carefully flip them over and continue to roast until the liquid has evaporated, another 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and heat the broiler.
3. Using a large skillet, heat some oil. Add the butter and swirl in the oil until melted. Add the breadcrumbs with a pinch of salt, stirring frequently until golden brown, 6 minutes. Transfer crumbs to a large bowl.
4. Wipe down the skillet with a paper towel. Heat some oil and add the pancetta until some fat is rendered. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and transfer to another large bowl.
5. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook in the rendered fat without stirring for 3 minutes. Add 1 tbsp more of oil and continue to cook the mushrooms for another 3 minutes, stirring this time. Season with some salt. Transfer to the bowl with the pancetta.
6. Add more oil to sautÃ© the onions and the garlic. Stir in sherry and cook until almost no liquid remains. Stir in thyme, parsley, cheddar cheese and heavy cream with the pancetta. Season with salt and pepper and toss until cheese is melted. Your filling is done.
7. Flip portobello caps. Spoon this filling onto the mushrooms. Top with breadcrumbs. Broil mushroom until the crumbs are golden brown, about 2 minutes.