I fell hard for grilling last summer. For our first few years of home ownership, I avoided buying a grill because I hate owning stuff I use infrequently. Besides, as a mostly-vegetarian, what was I going to grill? Grilled vegetables are tasty enough, but they didn't seem to justify the hassle and expense.
But the November before last, I found myself poking around the Target Christmas department in an effort to put off the actual shopping I had to do over in the cleaning supplies aisle. Tucked between the strands of multi-colored Christmas lights and illuminated reindeer was a small charcoal grill, sized perfectly for our modest patio and easy to tuck away in our garage in the off-season. There wasn't a price tag in sight, so I called over a teenage sales associate with a price scanner. "It's not showing up in the system," she said with a shrug. "I think it's been here for too long."
A manager was summoned and the pricing predicament explained. The manager looked at the grill, a lonely reminder of summer in a sea of Christmas decor. "Honestly, at this point I just want the thing off my shelf. How does $15 sound?"
So I lugged my prize home to Mike, who was somewhat confused as to why I brought home a grill in November when I had set off to Target to buy dish soap. Nevertheless, he was enthusiastic about the grilled meat in his future.
Once the snow finally melted, we kept our first grilling experiment simple: brats for Mike, grilled portobello mushrooms for me. Granted, I love mushrooms, but marinated portobello mushrooms grilled over charcoal were a revelation. They acquire a lovely meaty depth, the sweetness and tang of the balsamic vinegar punctuated by smoke and umami. I've gone on to grill other things--asparagus, tofu kebabs, cabbage--but these portobello mushrooms are what I return to again and again.
This recipe is adapted from a Skinnytaste recipe for mushroom burgers; since I'm a mushroom fanatic I skip the buns and just eat all the mushrooms singlehandedly. If you're new to grilling, mushrooms are a perfect introduction: they'll taste just fine if you leave them on the heat a bit too long.
Serves 1 as a main course
Adapted from Skinnytaste
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 2-3 large portobello mushroom caps (6 ounces), stems removed
Combine vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, and rosemary in an 8x8 glass baking dish. Brush mushrooms with marinade and place in dish. Marinate mushrooms at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, flipping a few times and brushing with marinade.
Heat grill to high heat. Place mushrooms on grill and brush with marinade. Cover and grill for 5-7 minutes. Flip mushrooms, brush with marinade, and cover and grill for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender.