Grilled Portobellos

Music: The Allman Brothers Band, An Evening with the Allman Brothers (PS – for our first anniversay, we are going to see Allman Brothers live at Red Rocks!!!)
Menu:
Strawberry and Almond Salad with a creamy poppy seed dressing, grilled garlic corn, and grilled portobello’s on homemade potato rosemary bread!


So, the real star of this meal was the potato rosemary bread. The recipe came from another food blog, Smitten Kitchen…check out the recipe here. Anyways, the bread was quite a production, but if you have some time and are craving some fresh, hot out of the oven rosemary bread, I highly recommend this recipe. There are few things better than a fresh slice of bread with a smidge of butter that melts instantly…yummmm.

N-E-ways…we realized we haven’t blogged about our staple meal…grilled portobellos. We eat them almost once a week. On buns, without, with mozzarella melted on top, with various aioli’s, or just by themselves. If you haven’t ever had a grilled portobello mushroom, well you are missin’ out.

We also whipped up a big strawberry salad, since the strawberries are out in full force. It is usually a necessity for me to have freshly chunked blue cheese on my strawberry salad, but I didn’t have any around. So, I had never made a poppy seed dressing, but whipped up something, which turned out great! It was light, creamy, with a nutty flavor. We topped the salad with sliced almonds and called it a night. I think a lot of times we are pressed to create a big salad full of toppings like we get in restaurants. I’ve found that the best salads we have are on those nights when I have some spinach or lettuce and throw whatever’s in my fridge on top. Here’s the key – pick a theme around one ingredient and then round your food group bases. Got an apple you just have to use? Try pairing it with thick cheddar chunks and pecans. My formula is fruit or veggie, cheese, nuts, and always green onions. Give it a try next time you feel like makin’ a salad. Now, finally, the recipe!

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 4 large portobello caps, wiped clean of dirt and stems removed*
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 TB fresh rosemary, chopped (if using dried herbs, just decrease the amount by about half)
  • 1 1/2 tspn. fresh thyme, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper, optional
  • 1 TB Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TB EVOO
  • Salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat grill to medium-heat.
  2. Combine Worcestershire, vinegar, and EVOO in a small bowl.
  3. Starting gill side down, rub half of the dry ingredients (garlic, rosemary, thyme, peppers) into mushrooms. Drizzle with about 1/4 of the wet ingredients.
  4. Flip mushrooms and sprinkle with remaining dry ingredients and pour the rest of the wet ingredients over mushrooms.
  5. Set aside and let marinate at room temperature for about 25 – 30 minutes (can be as little at 15 and as much as an hour, I have found that this range works best).
  6. Remove mushrooms from marinade and sprinkle with salt just before grilling.
  7. Turn heat down to medium and place mushrooms GILL SIDE DOWN** and grill for about 5 – 6 minutes. Flip mushrooms and grill for another 3 -5 minutes. Add cheese after about a minute or so. Close grill while mushrooms cook for best flavor.
  8. Serve ’em plain or on a bun, but please enjoy!

*Some say to remove the gills inside the mushroom cap. I have done this once or twice and find that it’s messy, a pain, and I think the gills help soak up all the yummy marinade.

**Everytime we grill mushrooms in our household, wepromptly yell, “gill side down first!” Why? Good question. When mushrooms cook, they begin to lose their firm shape and release their juices (this is why you salt just before grilling or when sauteeing, salt after the mushrooms brown and release juices…). Think about a mushroom, cap side up on a grill, releasing all it’s juices…into the cap. The juices pool up and when it’s time to flip it over you ruin your fire! So, join us in our routine, and happily yell, “gill side down first!” to help you remember before you cook ’em!

Cocoa and Chile Rubbed Pork Chops

Music: Sublime, 40 oz. to Freedom…went a little old school on you
Menu:
Cocoa and Chile Rubbed Pork Chops, roasted green beans & mushrooms, cheesy grits

Let’s talk about spice, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the sweet and spicy things that make these pork chops…that includes a little S & P. Was that too chessy?!? Maybe…but these pork chops surely are not. The recipe (courtesy of Food & Wine) calls for pure ancho chile powder. Well, I did not have ancho chiles, but I still have a TON of cayenne peppers from a few years back when I tried making my own chile spiked vodka as a Bloody Mary base for X-mas gifts one year…let’s just say the vodka is killer…and I mean that literally and not in a “dude” way.

N-E-ways. I grounded up some cayenne pepps, combined some cocoa powder and brown suga’ and wall-la! Friggin’ amazing! These were spicy, like really spicy. If you don’t like spice I recommend a basic mexican chile powder or as the recipe suggests ancho chile powder. Here in Denver, you can find whatever chile your heart desires – fresh or dried – in the regular supermarket. But in case you aren’t sure what the h-e-double hockeysticks an ancho chile is, it’s actually just a dried poblano pepper. Poblano are the long, wide dark green chiles. Ancho is the dried version and like a poblano they are much milder than a cayenne.

Oh, oh, oh…one of my fave side dishes! Roasted green beans and mushrooms with garlic, shallot amazing-ness! Add some EVOO and S & P and pop in the oven for 12 minutes and literally one of the best side dishes…at least on the Callahan scorecard.

Lastly, I must tell you that grits for dinner is perfectly acceptable. This is coming from the household that goes through a canister of grits in about 1 week (does that qualify as an obsession?!?). I will share my most perfect grits recipe, but later. Time for the spicy sweet pork chops that look oh-so-delish.


Cocoa-and-Chile-Rubbed Pork Chops
from Food & Wine

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 1/2 tspn crushed red pepper
  • salt
  • Pork chops – 4 thick boneless pork loin chops
  • 1 TB unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 TB light brown sugar
  • 1 TB pure ancho chile powder
  • EVOO

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl or your regular marinating dish, combine water, red pepper, and 1 1/2 tspn. of salt and stir until salt dissolves. Add pork chops and let brine at room temp. for at least an hour.
  2. Light a grill (create an indirect heating scenario: if you have a charcoal grill, move all coals to one side or for a gas grill, just light one side).
  3. In a bowl, mix cocoa, sugar, and chile powder, with 1 TB salt.
  4. Drain pork chops and pat dry. Brush or drizzle with EVOO.
  5. Press pork chops into cocoa rub and press to help adhere. Repeat on both sides and with each pork chop.
  6. Grill over moderate-high heat for 4 minutes, turning once, until lightly browned on each side. Move chops to cool side of grill and cover and let sit for 10 – 15 minutes. Thermometer should read 135 for medium meat. Let chops rest before digging in.
  7. Serve with veggies, grits, and water to cool down the heat!