Shrimp portabella Poblano ‡

Most mushrooms are not particularly tasty when eaten raw, by themselves, or without the company of other ingredients and seasonings. My high-school friend and later brother-in-law Albert once told me, “I’ve never tasted mushrooms. I’ve eaten them, but never tasted them.” That was when I was in Elida high school, and all mushrooms were of the white button variety, in cans.

Consequently, they were traditionally either chopped up and put in soups, stews, and casseroles, or they were left whole and stuffed with a myriad ilk of savory fillings, then baked, grilled, or fried. Because of their usual size, they are commonly relegated to hors d’oeuvre or other appetizer.

But the portabella is large enough, about the size of a hamburger patty, to make an entreé-sized meal. Portabellas are nothing more than grownup crimini (Italian brown) mushrooms, which, by being older, are perhaps a little more flavorful than their younger siblings.

Some shiitakes are also this large, but can be hard to find. If I could regularly buy shiitake mushrooms this size, I would have recommended them for this preparation, as I like their taste and texture far more than portabellas. When you find them, I recommend them instead.

The following preparation makes a fine light Sunday brunch or Monday night dinner. A fine, well-chilled riesling or sauvignon blanc makes an excellent accompaniment.

  • 1 Poblano chile, seeded and chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced fine
  • 4 scallions, diced fine
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 oz nonfat half-and-half cream
  • 2 oz sherry
  • 1 tsp tomato bouillon powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 14 medium shrimp, diced
  • 1 oz ham, diced fine
  • 2 oz Swiss cheese, diced
  • 1 oz grated Asiago cheese
  • 2 oz nonfat cream cheese
  • 2 large portabella mushroom caps
  • olive oil spray

Lightly wash and dry the mushrooms. Remove their center stalks and dice. Place the diced mushroom stems, chile, carrot, scallions, cream, sherry, and bouillon powder in a saucepan, stir, bring to a boil, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat and let cool.

When cool, add in the egg, ham, shrimp, and cheeses. Mix all ingredients until uniform. Wash and pat the mushrooms dry. Cover the convex bowl of each cap amply with the stuffing mixture, heaping it into a mound. This may be done earlier in the day and refrigerated until ready for use.

Place each cap in a nonstick baking pan, spray the mushroom and pan with olive oil, and bake under a loose aluminum foil hat for 20 to 25 minutes at 350° F. Remove the foil cover, raise the temperature to 425° F and bake for another 10 minutes.

Serve with cilantro sauce and lemon wedges on the side.