Well, my sister, who is more or less a supporter of this project, will be happy to know my portabella burgers were a total failure, so even if it wasn’t mushroom week and I wasn’t already planning to try something new every night, I would be forced to cook them another way again tonight. I’m starting to think this was a terrible idea.
I went to the farmer’s market to stock up on supplies for this week’s battles with mushrooms. When I got there I realized I had been shopping for the same 12 things for so long I had no idea where to look for any of the new items on my list. When I couldn’t find half the ingredients, I decided I shouldn’t go to the farmer’s market by myself anymore and I left rather dejected. I did manage to pick up portabellas for the first battle, but that was it, so I have to go back with a chaperone for the rest of this week’s mushies.
When I got home, I did the same thing I did last week, I sat around and waited. It’s not like I hadn’t learned my lesson from last week, I had. It’s just that I was pretty sure it wouldn’t take long to grill a few pieces of mold. I was right about that. And I was wrong about a pretty similar thing I was wrong about last week, which was assuming the sitting and waiting would be fine, even though I don’t know how to grill. What I learned about grilling is that it takes a while to heat a charcoal grill. People who grill things know this. I do not grill things. I did not know this.
Many people suggested portabellas to me as a good introduction to mushrooms. I was skeptical of this advice because of its sheer size, but people assured me, no, Julie, you will be fine, it tastes just like steak. I believe you will not be shocked to learn this opinion came from a vegetarian. Having never so much as touched a mushroom in my whole life, to avoid mucking up my dinner I prepared the portabellas exactly the way friends and the Internet told me to: I marinated them in olive oil and balsamic vinegar—which I understood to mean washing them, something I assume you’re supposed to do with all vegetables to avoid salmonella and the plague, and then dropping them in a casserole dish filled with oil and vinegar—and an hour later when the coals were fired up, I tossed them on the grill where they promptly combusted. David said it was because of the olive oil, but I had done exactly what everyone told me to do, so I believe everyone’s instructions should have included more specific warnings on how not to explode my portabellas.
I added provolone cheese just before I took the charred mushrooms off the grill, then I topped them with some fresh tomatoes and viola, portabella charcoal bricks. They looked beautiful. They tasted like crap. Chewy, oily, burnt crap.