Portobellos make a hearty, meatless meal

Full disclosure: This meal is not universally appreciated in our house. I for one could sink my teeth into a juicy, flame-grilled portobello burger once a week during the summer. Mr. Second Helpings, however, could never eat one again and live happily ever after. He doesn’t hate them it just isn’t his “thing”. I’m trying to understand but, seriously, have you seen the pictures? What is not to love!

I often hear people talking about wanting to reduce their consumption of meat but frustrated that it will mean eating nothing but tofu and lentils. Perhaps you can relate. I love this burger as a gateway to making meatless meals for the meat lover. To make this a stomach-satisfying meal, serve a side dish with more protein like a quinoa or bean salad but let the burger be the star of the show.

The key to a great portobello burger is the marinade. Once you have your mushrooms brushed and trimmed, let them hang out in your favorite steak marinade. There are a ton of off the shelf options but they are also super simple to make at home too. The basic components are sweet, salty, and acid. When all else fails I like to grab Worcestershire sauce, wine vinegar, a little honey, and good old salt and pepper. If you are feeling adventurous, get fancy with some garlic or herbs. Below is a step-by-step method for preparing portobello burgers from start to finish.

Finish your burger with some great condiments. I really like Fire Roasted Relish, as suggested below, but also enjoy avocado slices, blue cheese, traditional lettuce and tomato, and yes, I have been known to add a slice or two of bacon.

I am willing to accept that I am in the minority when it comes to my preference for a grilled meaty mushroom over actual meat. The last time a craving hit I made a double stack burger for myself for lunch so Mr. Second Helpings could have something else for dinner. But- if you have never tried a portobello burger I urge you to put these on the menu. Even if you don’t love them as much as I do I hope you have fun giving a new food a try.

Portobello Chili Cheese Burger

If you find yourself craving something thick and juicy between two buns – skip the meat and sink your teeth into this bad boy. Close your eyes, open wide, and enjoy the full flavor action. A toasty crunch, a meaty chew, a peppery warmth in the back of your throat. Oh baby! I’ll have what I’m having!

1. Get your hands on some thick meaty Portobello mushrooms. Trim the stumps and soak them in your favorite steak marinade. Leave 30 minutes up to several hours.

2. Grill the Portobellos over high heat until the juices bubble and they have those fantastic char marks on both sides. Finish by melting a slice of your favorite gooey cheese over each top (Monterey Jack).

3. While the cheese melts toast up some hearty buns. Go ahead and splurge on the buns for this burger, pick something that is a treat – there aren’t many calories in the other components.

4. Heap some Fire Roasted Relish onto the bottom bun and let the cheese from the mushroom ooze into the top bun.

This recipe first appeared as It’s hot in here and it’s not just the chilies on Our Lady of Second Helpings, September 2012.

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