Friday, June 19, 2015

Mystery Mushrooms - Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Grilled Chicken

For pure TV viewing entertainment, you cannot beat science fiction.  Series like Babylon 5, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1, Firefly, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Quantum Leap, Andromeda, and Star Trek in all of its incarnations have been faithfully followed since I was young, starting the Star Trek in 1966. (Although Doctor Who premiered in 1962, I did not become a Whovian until 2005.  My loss, yes, I know.)

When it comes to reading, my preference is for mystery novels - old-fashioned murder mysteries, police procedurals, cozies, detective, legal/medical - there are many more.  Even before I got hooked on Star Trek I had started working my way through novels written by Ellery Queen and Rex Stout. Not a Nancy Drew person;  my interest in girl's mystery novels was from the Judy Bolton series, a few volumes which were in our house.  I wish I had those books now; they had been printed during the War (the Big One, World War II) according to wartime restriction on the use of paper.  I have no doubt that they belonged to my mother Joyce.  Both Joycie and I were raised by someone who loved to read murder mysteries. Those four Ellery Queen and two Rex Stout novels belonged to my grandmother; she left them out on a shelf, and I read them, and re-read them and re-read them.  Even now, there is a paperback volume of Ellery Queen's Calamity Town on my night table, as well as one on my Kindle app, and at least twenty of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries on Kindle.

Having said all that, when it comes to re-reading favorite novels, top awards also go to Robert Heinlein. He is the exception to my rule about reading mysteries for entertainment and relaxation.

I would have to say that my favorite modern mystery writer is Patricia Cornwell for her Scarpetta series, but I love so many others, and it's hard to put them in any kind of order.  Let me throw out one series - the culinary mysteries of Diane Mott Davidson (ah ha, finally getting to the reason for the last three paragraphs). Her main character is a caterer, and the author includes a substantial number of recipes in each novel. I've cooked several of those recipes and they are good, really good.  One of my favorites is her Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed With Grilled Chicken, Pesto, and Sun Dried Tomatoes from her book The Last Suppers.  

So after all my talk about toxic mushrooms, I thought it would be nice to clear my emotional palate and make a really delicious dish with portobellos.  There are many ways to stuff a portobello, but as I've said, I really like Diane Mott Davidson's version.

Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed With Grilled Chicken, Pesto, and Sun Dried Tomatoes

4 large portobello mushrooms

Marinade for Mushrooms:
5 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons dry sherry

Marinade for chicken:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, pressed

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves each cut in half
¼ cup pesto
2 tablespoons finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, drained and patted with paper towels if packed in olive oil

Carefully clean the mushrooms with damp paper towel and trim. Remove and chop the stems. Place the mushroom caps, tops down, and the chopped stems in a 9 by 13-inch glass-baking dish. Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon sherry over the underside of each mushroom cap, pour the remaining olive oil and sherry over the stems. Cover and set aside to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

Mix together the marinade for the chicken and pour over the chicken slices. Cover and set aside to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat a grill. Grill the chicken quickly, about 1 to 2 minutes per side (they will be cooked further). Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Carefully spread 1 tablespoon pesto over the underside of each mushroom cap. Sprinkle 1 ½ teaspoons sun-dried tomatoes on top of each pesto-covered mushroom. Evenly distribute the marinated mushroom stems on top of the tomatoes.

Place 2 slices of chicken on top. Place the stuffed mushrooms in a greased 9 by 13-inch pan. Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through. Serve immediately.  Makes 4 servings.

Pretty easy and you can prepare most of it in advance.  And it's really, really good.  How could it not be, with that combination of tastes?

I knew with happy certainty that when I went out on my food shopping expedition today - too many stops and too many items, as it turned out - I was going to pick up the chicken and the portobellos.  Except it was one of those days when Walmart in Kissimmee was missing all the stuff I needed for the tamales, and while they had the portobello mushrooms, the available mushrooms were subject to an interesting twist.

Hum. Spinach and artichoke stuffed mushrooms.

Well, that was a new one for me.  But with the thought "what could be bad?" I purchased these.  I'll adapt them to work with the recipe and I bet they'll be awesome.

Tomorrow.  Tomorrow they'll be awesome.  Today is almost done, and I wore myself out stopping at two different Walmarts, a Wawa, a Race Trac, my therapist's office, and my favorite Spanish market. I'm exhausted; the good news is I do not have to go out tomorrow, and so for the first time in a week, I'm going to do some cooking.

Some very serious, time-consuming cooking.  I am going to make the filling and/or the sauce for the tamales.  This is likely to turn into a three-day project, like the lasagna rolls. And of course, the portobello mushrooms.

Good things from the garden: part of yesterday's pictures.  Let me show off my first tomato.  I'm very excited about it.  Not quite enough to make sauce, or even a small salad, but we're getting there.

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