Saturday, June 20, 2015

Mourning Charleston - Chicken-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Some events are too awful to imagine.  Too difficult to wrap your mind around.  Too shocking to absorb. What the hell just happened in South Carolina?  

Today is a bad day as dictated by the neurons in my brain.  I feel out-of-sorts.  Aches and pain, of course, but it's a mood thing as well.  My brain is foggy, so that simple tasks cannot be completed in any sort of linear fashion.  Even as I'm typing this, I want to stop and do something else, like storing the plastic containers I bought yesterday.  I am trying to do some cooking, but having an awful time starting and staying on task.  The cooking and writing should flow seamlessly - on its better days, this is a cooking blog - but I am having the damnedest time trying to prepare the stuffed portobellos.  I've made some changes, but can't seem to record them in any sort of ordered fashion.

A Variation on Diane Mott Davidson's Portobello Mushroom Stuffed With Grilled Chicken

4 Monterey brand portobello mushrooms stuffed with spinach and artichoke
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, chopped (I used tarragon and thyme)

With a fork, gently move the filling so that the gills are exposed around the edge of each mushroom cap. In a measuring cup, combine the olive oil, sherry, and herbs, and whisk together.  Let this sit for about a half hour.  Carefully spoon 2 tablespoons of the marinade on the exposed gills of each mushroom cap.  Leave this at room temperature while you prepare and marinate the chicken.  When you are ready to grill the chicken, spread out the spinach artichoke filling across the entire mushroom cap, and then pop them under the broiler for about 4 minutes.

Goldy Schulz, the main character in The Last Suppers, gets her herbaceous flavors from basil-based pesto, but I decided to try tarragon and thyme for the mushrooms, and yes, fresh from my garden.  The marinade for the chicken, on the other hand, is all about garlic, green onion, and home-grown oregano, but that's a bit later.  Tarragon and thyme both go very well with mushrooms, as does using sherry for a marinade base.  The inspiration for using the tarragon comes from my friend Vicki Feldman, who is probably going to shake her head when she reads this:

It was very late in 1975.  I was between marriages, back home with my parents, and totally at loose ends.  I had met Vicki through her husband Steve, an old friend of mine from New Paltz.  They invited me to their home in Westchester for a New Year's Eve party, and to meet an unattached young man who would be there as well.  I don't remember his name, or the city he hailed from in Massachusetts, but I do remember that Vicki had prepared delicious stuffed mushrooms for the party and what made them exceptional was her addition of tarragon.  That's when I learned that tarragon goes really well with mushrooms.  Thanks, Vicki!

2 large chicken breast halves, cut in half horizontally, and then cut in half across
kosher salt
ground black pepper
1/4 cup garlic flavored extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 green onions, white and light green parts sliced thinly
1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
4 slices Swiss cheese

Place the chicken in a baking dish.  Season evenly with the salt and pepper. Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, green onion and oregano, and whisk together.  Pour this marinade over the chicken and let sit at room temperature for an hour.  Grill the chicken for 1 to 2 minutes (I used my Cuisinart Griddler) and return to the baking dish with the marinade. Divide the sun-dried tomatoes evenly and sprinkle across each mushroom cap.  Place 2 pieces of the chicken on each mushroom cap, and then evenly divide the remaining marinade components and liquid.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and place a slice of cheese over each. Return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and everything is heated through.  Serve immediately.

That's just gorgeous.  Gorgeous and impressive.  And I have it on good authority that they were delicious.

Speaking of impressive, I'm going to be making tamales, specifically Red Pork Chili Tamales, another recipe from Tamales 101 by Alice Guadalupe Tapp.  Once I made that decision, I kinda went nuts with other dishes to go with the tamales.  The tamales are a lengthy project that will stretch out over days - good thing, because the avocados and the yellow plantains are nowhere near ripe enough.

Yes that's lard.  It has a place in the masa.  The pigeon peas are for arroz con gandules (rice with peas).  The refried beans are for my refried beans with everything recipe .

The yellow plantains will be turned into maduros, and the avocados into a rich dip that can also be used as a sauce, both in the fullness of time. I am recklessly mixing the menu with Mexican, Puerto Rican, South American and Tex-Mex recipes and having a grand time.

To wrap today up - it has been unbelievably difficult to watch the news reports of the victim's families' statements to the murderer, during his bond hearing.  My heart is broken for them and for the city of Charleston.

God give them strength.

No comments:

Post a Comment