July 18, 2014

Portobello Sliders

I think everyone knows (or has read about) a pushy vegan. There's so many jokes about finding the vegan on an online post or at a dinner party. Anyone who has hosted a dinner party has probably been asked if there will be a vegetarian option or if there's space on the grill that won't touch meat or if it's ok if the vegetarian guest can bring their own food and so on. No offense to vegetarians, but if I'm cooking for myself and a dozen other hungry omnivores, your dietary preferences won't dictate my meal plan. I understand your point of view, but I'm still not converting.

However, I do have a few vegetarian and vegan recipes in my repertoire, and they satisfy meat eaters and vegetarians alike. These portobello sliders make a wonderful appetizer for just about anyone since you really won't miss the meat. But if you want to top them with a pile of crispy, salty bacon, that's totally ok too.

What makes these sliders so perfect is the fact that mushrooms can take on a meaty flavor without actually being meat. Something about the combination of thick mushrooms and barbecue sauce all caramelized over a hot grill gives the "patty" a more savory flavor and a chewy texture reminiscent of an actual burger. You can use your favorite barbecue sauce; homemade or bottled both work, but I'm not sure my peach barbecue sauce would pair so well. All you have to do is slather it all over the mushrooms (I use medium-sized portobellos that matched the size of my rolls; you can also get the big portobellos and trim them down to fit) and let them sit for about half an hour before grilling.

Now for the fun part: the toppings. I love a good cheeseburger, so I put slices of American cheese on each slider. You can use whatever type of cheese you want (or none at all), including non-dairy cheese if you have vegan guests. I also added tomatoes, sliced red onions, roasted jalapenos, and roasted garlic. Whatever your favorite toppings are for burgers would be just as good on these sliders, so experiment with different cheeses, bacon, vegetables, and spreads.

The roasted jalapenos are so easy to make; I stuck whole jalapenos under a broiler, turning every few minutes, until they were black and charred on each side. I then transferred them to a plastic bag, sealed it, and let them sit and steam for about 10 minutes. That makes it much easier to peel off the charred skin, leaving just tender, not-so-spicy jalapenos that I removed the seeds from and sliced. The only thing easier to make was the roasted garlic. I sliced the tops off of a few heads, peeled most of the outer papery skins off, drizzled them with olive oil, wrapped them in foil, and cooked them at 325F for about an hour until the cloves were golden brown and caramelized.

To save on prep time, you can turn this into a slider bar. Just grill the mushrooms and serve everything separately on platters so your guests can assemble their own. This makes it especially easy if you have vegetarian guests but you're a bacon addict like I am; you can steal all the bacon for yourself and leave everyone else some delicious, healthy mushroom sliders.

8 Portobello Mushrooms
8 Slider Buns/Dinner Rolls
1 Cup Barbecue Sauce
Toppings: Cheese, Bacon, Tomatoes, Onion, Lettuce, Roasted Garlic, Roasted Jalapenos, etc.

Trim the mushrooms to fit the buns, if necessary. Toss with half the barbecue sauce, making sure to coat the top and the bottom. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Heat a grill or grill pan. Grill the mushrooms for 5 minutes on each side, seasoning with salt and pepper, or until the mushrooms are tender and the barbecue sauce is caramelized.

Assemble the sliders by placing a mushroom on each roll, spreading the remaining barbecue sauce on top, and adding whatever toppings you prefer.

Makes 8
Recipe Adapted from Love and Lemons

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