Thursday, September 29, 2011

Portabella Mushroom "Fries"

Fried vegetables, in my opinion are a nutritional oxymoron.  Maybe after a few hours of happy hour at the bar, they may seem like a “healthy” munchie, but let’s be real.  The draw of the “fries”, are their crunchy and crispy exterior and added flavor to just about anything.  The problem with most fried veggies is that the veggie is lost inside a glob of greasy breading or fried batter.   I am not a fryer, so I set out on a mission to find a healthy alternative!
So if you seek the crunchy without the fat and fryer, try this method of making veggie “fries”. 
The prep is a two-fold cooking process but it is worth the effort, and can be made in the background of preparing other things for your meal.  Organic mushrooms are not necessary but my choice.  You can vary your seasonings and type of bread crumb, but the rice flour is a must for the breading to adhere to the roasted mushrooms. 

Organic Portabella Mushroom “fries”

Time:  40-50 minutes         makes Four side dish servings
5-6 organic portabella caps or baby bella caps (could use cremini mushrooms as well)
(Mother Earth Organics are amazing!)
FOR ROASTING the shrooms
Olive oil, kosher salt, pepper,  a splash of balsamic or red wine vinegar, fresh thyme

FOR BREADING the shrooms: (about 1 cup of each) rice flour (sweet white or brown rice),  buttermilk, bread crumbs (I use a mix of homemade bread crumbs and panko, herbs, and sometimes a few tablespoons of finely grated parmesan-romano cheese)
a veggie grill basket-type pan or a slotted broiler sheet pan may work (anything that lets the veggies get some directed heat.

  Cut stem off mushrooms and wipe them off.  Toss mushrooms with a coating of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper (don’t overdo!), a splash of the vinegar.  Place on a baking sheet prepped with cooking spray or some olive oil, and lay the thyme on top of the mushrooms.  Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350-400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.  They will look a little shriveled but, will not release their water.
STEP TWO:  In the meantime you can set up your breading station.  You will need 3 shallow dishes- first is the rice flour.  If you don’t have rice flour, get it!  All-purpose flour is too heavy and that’s the reason why breading slides off things!  Rice flour is finer, has nice flavor, and adheres/coats evenly.  Next dish is for is the buttermilk.  I use 2% organic milk mixed with 1 T of apple-cider vinegar to make it.  The third dish is for the bread crumbs.  Have some extra breadcrumb mix available, you may need to replenish this dish depending on the size of your caps.
STEP THREE:  Once the mushrooms are cooled, you can cut them into the fried shape of your choice.  I like steak-fry style for the mushrooms because they are meaty, but you could do more of a mc d style too.  Place a baking pan lined with parchment or wax paper at the end of your assembly line.
STEP FOUR: Dredge the mushrooms through each bowl, making sure that any excess is shaken off before dipping in the next dish.  (You will notice how the roasting process has brought out enough water content to allow the mushrooms to coat easily and evenly.)
Place them on the baking sheet.  At this point you could freeze them for another time.  Just place the sheet in the freezer for about an hour and when they are somewhat frozen, transfer them to a container.
STEP FIVE:  Place the grill basket pan on a preheated 400 degree gas grill.  Place the mushrooms on the basket pan and close the grill.  These are great to make if you are grilling meat of other meal items at the same time.  The ‘shrooms should take about 20 minutes.  Turn them occasionally.  They should become a nice golden color and may become slightly charred, depending on the height of your grill flame.  Remove from the heat. 
Drizzle with olive oil and season more to taste.  Serve as a side, with your fav condiments.

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