Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chicken-Fried Portobello + Mushroom & Shallot Gravy

"Everything's better chicken fried," my buddy Aaron exclaimed when I told him what I had made for dinner last night. I had to agree. In this recipe, a meaty portobello mushroom graciously stands in for steak in this vegetarian take on a Southern classic, chicken-fried steak. 

I used to eat chicken-fried steak all the time when I was a kid. My grandmother would make it, and we'd have the same conversation every time. "What is it, Mamaw?" I'd ask, "chicken or steak?" She joke around and tell me it's both. Now the answer is neither. Though her food was always delicious, I like this meatless version best.

Chicken-Fried Portobello Mushroom

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon each: salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and sweet paprika

2 eggs (whisked)
1/8 cup cream
3 portobello mushroom (stemmed, trimmed)

1 cup canola oil
Shallot and Mushroom Gravy*

chopped parsley

Combine the flour with the spices in a mixing bowl large enough to accommodate one mushroom at a time. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the eggs and cream. 

Now trim the mushrooms by removing the stems and the part of the cap that hangs over the gill side; doing this will create a flat surface, which will make it much easier to pan-fry your mushrooms. Reserve the trimmings because you will use them in the gravy. 

Heat the oil to medium high in a 12-inch frying pan. Depending on the size of the mushrooms, this pan should accommodate all three at once. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees. Now, batter the mushrooms using a three-step process: toss them in the flour mixture, coat them with the egg mixture, then dredge them in the flour mixture. This should help plenty of spiced flour to adhere to the mushroom. Fry mushrooms for about two minutes per side. 

Place mushrooms on a baking sheet and finish cooking them through in the oven. This should take about 15 minutes, which is the perfect amount of time to make your gravy.

To serve, smother mushroom with gravy and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with your favorite side vegetable. We had garden-grown green beans with garlic and tomatoes.

*Shallot and Mushroom Gravy:

1 tablespoon of butter
trimmings from the mushrooms
1/2 cup shallot (minced)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup strong broth (preferably mushroom)
1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
sea salt 

Melt butter in a 10-inch frying pan over medium heat. Add the trimmings and shallots. Once the shallot is translucent, add the flour and cook until nutty and fragrant. Add the broth and milk as you whisk. Slowly bring mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Mixture should be thick like pancake batter after a few minutes. Season with black pepper and sea salt.