Tue Sep 3, 2013
This weekend at the Meatwave I'm going to take another shot at something I've failed at numerous times in the past—veggie burgers. Being a self-described "meatmaster," I pay fairly little attention to the needs to my crazy friends who've never heard of the food chain. It's probably because of this that I have never stopped long enough to consider what would make a grilled veggie burger recipe work, and didn't care enough to put the effort into finding out. During my last veggie burger failure, I took an easy way out and picked up a sack of giant portobello mushrooms to turn into "burgers." Intended for the folks who have yet to graduate from Bovine University, I even surprised myself in concurring that these are some pretty damn tasty sandwiches.
These weren't the only portobello burgers I've made, but they were the first I really liked. In all past versions, I simply gave the mushroom caps a brushing of oil and hefty seasoning with salt and pepper before putting them on the grill. This time around I went slightly more in depth and made a marinade for the portobellos prior to cooking.
The marinade started with a 50/50 split of tangy balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I built in some additional flavor with the brightness of lemon juice, the bite of mustard, the sharpness of garlic, and an herbal touch via thyme. The mushrooms sat in the marinade for thirty minute to absorb some of this tasty vinaigrette.
Then they went on the grill where I was looking to further improve the portobellos with a bit of smoky flavor and get them nice and tender. It doesn't take long to do this, only 3 to 4 minutes per is all that's needed to get the mushrooms to a point that they're sandwich ready.
It's pretty easy to tell when the portobellos are done if you grill them gill side down and then flip to finish. As the mushrooms cook, they start to release moisture, and this is something you can visibly see on the gill side. The portobello goes from dry to having a glossy and juicy appearance that will start you mouth watering. A minute or two after they start looking like this, they're usually tender without being overcooked and soggy, which is what I was shooting for.
Once done, the mushrooms got the standard burger treatment by being piled on a toasted potato roll along with tomato, onion, and lettuce. I never really got the "meaty" description I hear so often about portobellos until I had this sandwich—the juicy, salty, and tangy mushrooms had a heft that was undoubtedly filling like a beef burger. I had to be careful because it would have been easy to eat a full one, which would have resulted in less valuable meat space in my stomach—that says a lot for a "burger" that wasn't really a burger. It has also instilled a desire in me to make my another attempt at developing a proper veggie burger recipe that not only works on the grill, but is also delicious.
Balsamic Marinated Portobello Burgers
- Prep Time:
- 15 Minutes
- Inactive Time:
- 30 Minutes
- Cook Time:
- 8 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 53 Minutes
- 4 servings
- For the Marinade
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon finely minced thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 4 portobello mushrooms, stems removed and scrubbed clean
- 4 hamburger buns
- 4 pieces of green or red leaf lettuce, washed and dried
- 1 roma tomato, sliced
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, and salt.
- Place portobellos in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour in marinade, seal bag, and toss to coat mushrooms thoroughly. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill mushrooms until juicy and tender, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
- Transfer portobellos to buns. Top with lettuce, tomato, and onion and serve.