Slow-Roasted Balsamic Portobello Mushrooms over Cast Iron and Live Fire

Thanks to Kingsford for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

I couldn’t be more excited to cook outside this weekend at our home in the great north of pure Michigan. What better time of year to light a chimney of smoldering Kingsford Charcoal, enjoy the warmth beside a billowing fire and prepare a family-favorite recipe.

These slow-roasted portobello mushrooms are not only a breeze to prepare, but the recipe only calls for a short list of ingredients that you most likely already have on hand, and the dish is ready in less than 30 minutes! Above all, these mushrooms are beautiful in presentation and loaded with an abundance of umami flavors, from the earthiness of the fungi itself, to the sweetness of the aged balsamic, saltiness of the soy, to the nutty flavors of browned butter, fragrance of fresh rosemary and touch of heat from the cayenne pepper. Just and incredible dish sure to be loved as a standalone, garnished atop a hunk of perfectly grilled prime-grade beef, plated to compliment a filet of hardwood-smoked salmon, or tossed into a rustic wholegrain and herb salad, as shared in this post.

To get started, simply rinse the mushrooms in cold water and wipe clean with a damp paper towel. Be certain to not soak the mushrooms in water as they have a naturally high water content. This method will not only help the mushrooms incrementally absorb the marinade, but will also better brown in the cast iron pan. Marinade and browning = Flavor!! At this juncture, you are welcome to leave the mushrooms whole, slice in half or quarters – your preference.

Once the mushrooms are prepared, to make the marinade, whisk together the oil, butter, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, fresh rosemary, garlic and cayenne pepper, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Easy enough, right? And, if you love the essence of fresh rosemary like I do, don’t hesitate to toss in an extra sprig or two of rosemary! In an air-tight, re-sealable plastic container pour in the marinade and mushrooms, stirring to combine. Press out all extra air and refrigerate for two hours, up to overnight.

Thirty-minutes prior to the cook, work your way outside to light the grill. Load your chimney starter full to the brim with Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquets. Under the chimney stuff a couple pieces of crumpled newspaper. Ignite the paper and allow the coals to do their work. When coals are glowing and just ashed over, dump into a pile onto one side of the grill, then rake a few coals from your original pile to the opposite side of the grill floor, creating one high-stacked hot zone for searing (or sautéing) and one cooler zone for roasting. Also, be sure to keep a fresh bag of Kingsford Charcoal on hand – for every forty-five minutes of cooking, add a half-chimney of coals to keep the cook roaring.

To prepare the perfect pan of portobello mushrooms, pour all contents of the marinade container into a well-seasoned and oiled cast iron pan. Using protective gloves, carefully place the pan directly upon the high-pile of glowing charcoal embers – yes, right in the coals – cowboy-style! Once the liquid in the pan begins to simmer, stir the mushrooms consistently until the liquid is reduced by half. Then, move the pan over to the indirect cooking zone to slowly finish cooking. Stir intermittently while the mushrooms are imparted with all that delicious smokiness from the charcoal. When the mushrooms are tender and cooked through, and all pan liquids have evaporated, remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. For additional “umaminess,” pour in a half glass of white wine to the bottom of your pan at the end of the cook to deglaze the pan. Using a wooden spoon scrape up all those browned bits and reserve the drool-worthy sauce when it’s been reduced by half – preserve to pour atop your roasted mushroom just prior to plating. So. Darn. Good!

These mushrooms can be beautifully plated as a standalone dish or added into a warm quinoa and fresh herb salad – see photos below! But, just to give you a few extra ideas – these mushrooms can be stored for up to 4-6 days and easily repurposed into an array of other dishes! A few of my favorite include – grilled flanken-style short-ribs, portobellos and eggs over the campfire – just toss in a few of these mushrooms to take your steak and egg game to the next level. If considering amping up your next burger night, mince these mushrooms and press into your hamburger mix – the sweet, spicy and fragrant flavors will not only infuse phenomenal flavor, but cut calories in the process – how is that even possible??! Or, consider folding the mushrooms into a sweet-savory brie-bread pudding with celery and onion. Speaking of cheese… grilled cheese quite possibly may never be the same – just imagine all that melty, cheesy, mushroomy goodness in one buttery toasted sammy! Last, but not least, fold a few handfuls of these chopped portobellos into a creamy pasta dish with parmesan and prosciutto! The options are near endless. Now, get outdoors, light that charcoal and enjoy your cook!

Cheers my friends, David   

Slow-Roasted Balsamic Portobello Mushrooms over Cast Iron and Live Fire

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds mini portobello mushrooms, rinsed and cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons browned butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Whisk together oil, butter, vinegar, soy, rosemary, and garlic. Toss mushrooms in the liquid and marinate for two hours, up to overnight.
  • Thirty minutes prior to cooking, ignite the charcoal in a chimney starter. When coals are glowing and just ashed over, dump into a pile onto one side of the grill, then rake a few coals from your original pile to the opposite side of the grill floor, creating one high-stacked hot zone for searing (or sautéing) and one cooler zone for roasting. For every hour of cooking, add a half-chimney of coals.
  • Meanwhile, add mushrooms and marinade to a well-seasoned and oiled cast iron pan. Place pan directly into the smoldering charcoal embers, stirring intermittently until liquid reduced by ½. Move pan to indirect heat by repositioning the pan away from the coals or above the coals on an elevated grill grate. Remove from heat when the mushrooms are tender and all liquid absorbed.
  • Rest for 5 minutes and season additionally to taste. Plate atop a bed of quinoa and fresh herb salad.
  • Serve immediately.

Thanksgiving Cedar Planked Heritage Cornish Hens

It’s a beautiful, slow and smoky Thanksgiving in the great north of wild Michigan. What a breathtaking time of year to be outside with a cool breeze and leaves falling, next to the grill, preparing the greatest of feasts for those you love the very most.

These heritage cornish hens are one of our very favorite alternatives to roasting a 15-25 pound turkey! Instead of grilling-smoking one massive bird for 5-6 hours (not including the days prior of prep and planning), these hens are not only loaded with flavor, but are perfect for individual plating, take only 90 minutes to prepare, and are breathtaking in presentation.

To get started, I brined near a dozen of these birds overnight, rinsed them clean the next morning, patted dry with paper towel, then injected with a savory compound herb butter. The birds were filled to the brim with a homemade cornbread stuffing with honeycrisp apple, cranberry, fresh herb and Italian sausage – so delicious!

While I can get my Twin Eagles Grill down to a low and steady 180F (incredible!), this cook was set at 225F across all three cooking chambers of my 42″ grilling surface. The birds were rested atop cedar wood planks, then intermittently basted over the next hour to succulent, tender perfection. Once the dark meat in the thickest portion of the thigh reached 160F, I removed the planks from the heat and rested for 10 minutes.

These gorgeous birds were served alongside roasted root vegetables, a winter kale and fennel salad, mashed buttery acorn squash, a few bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon, the closest of family and best of friends. So much to be grateful for this holiday season. -Cheers, David

Thanksgiving Cedar Planked Heritage Cornish Hens

Ingredients

  • 8 cornish hens, trimmed giblets removed
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground peppercorn
  • Homemade or store-bought bread stuffing

Thanksgiving Brine

  • 3 gallons water
  • 1 gallon chicken stock
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 head garlic, smashed
  • 1 handful black peppercorns
  • 1 handful sprigs of rosemary, thyme and sage

Herbed-butter injection

  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoning, finely ground into powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt and pepper, finely ground, to taste

Instructions

  • In a large stock pot, bring all brine ingredients to a rolling boil. Stir intermittently until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely, then submerge hens into the brine. Cover pot with a lid and place in refrigerator for 24-48 hours.
  • Remove the bird from it’s brine 2-4 hours prior to cooking. Discard brine. Thoroughly rinse hens inside and out then pat dry with paper towel. Liberally season every portion of the winged beast with olive oil, salt and pepper. Fill the meat injection syringe with the herbed butter injection and insert into several points of the breast, thigh and leg meat. Tightly wrap the bird with plastic and rest at room temperature.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the homemade or store-bought stuffing. Set aside.
  • Preheat grill to 225°F and begin filling the birds with the breaded stuffing. Lay down a bed of fresh herbs atop the cedar wood planks, then rest two hens over each board. Place the birded planks directly upon the grill grates and cook for 45 minutes – 1 hour, with the grill lid closed. Baste intermittently with remaining melted herbed-butter and remove from the heat when internal temperature in thickest, inner-most portion of the thigh has reached 160F.
  • Rest the bird for 10-15 minutes before carving, allowing the denatured proteins to relax and reabsorb their juices, while carry-over cooking elevates the meat and stuffing to it's proper serving temperature of 165F. Carve and serve.