The Heart of New England
Portabella Mushroom “Burgers”
By Charlie Burke

Portabella mushrooms are an excellent substitute for meat and have a unique
earthy flavor of their own. This preparation is easy - a healthy, light and
crunchy “burger” whether served alone or on a roll.

Many years ago in a restaurant in Sienna, a lady I soon learned was the owner
was seated with great ceremony. No menu was presented, but she soon had
a glass of wine and antipasti, and I was eager to see what she would be having
for lunch. To my surprise, she was brought a huge broiled portabella and a
salad. Atop the mushroom was a small piece of steak, also broiled, but the
meat was clearly only a garnish. Since seeing this, I have served this versatile
meat substitute many ways, most recently stuffed as a main course in a recipe
recently in this column.

Until this past summer there was one mushroom farm in New Hampshire. I
had planned to visit the farm to write a column about the operation and to
include mushroom recipes but was unable to reach the growers. Later, I
learned that crops other than market mushrooms had been grown on the farm,
resulting interest from law enforcement agencies! The farm is no longer in
operation, so there is a great opportunity for locally grown mushrooms.

Serves 2:

2 large portabella mushrooms, stems removed
1 egg, beaten
¾ cup fresh or Panko bread crumbs
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup flour
Sea salt or kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Hamburger rolls (optional)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped, and 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (optional)
Sliced tomato (optional)
½ medium onion, finely chopped
Chopped parsley (optional)

Place a non stick frying pan over medium heat, place mushrooms into pan and
cook, turning until softened, 10 – 15 minutes.

Sprinkle salt and pepper liberally over both sides of mushrooms. Lay out three
plates, placing flour, egg and bread crumbs into each.

Reheat skillet over medium heat and skim with olive oil. Dust mushrooms
lightly with flour, dip into the beaten egg, and then cover well on both sides
with the bread crumb and cheese mixture. Sauté, turning until both sides are
nicely browned. Add olive oil as needed.

Serve plain with salad, on the bun with the mayonnaise and chopped garlic
and parsley or with your choice of tomato, lettuce, onion or mayonnaise for a
tasty lunch. A medium dry red wine will go well with this “burger”.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association, president of the NH Farm
to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along
with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at
Weather Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
Portabella Mushroom
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