The portabella -- also referred to as portobello or portabello -- is a cultivated mushroom used widely in vegetarian recipes. It is known for its meaty texture and generous size. The large, flat caps and open gills make these mushrooms excellent candidates for grilling and boiling, as well as for sautes.
Select the right mushroom. Portabellas are big, brown mushrooms and can be found in most supermarkets. Look for solid, plump and firm portabellas for best results. A shrivelled or slippery portabella indicates decomposition and thus should be avoided. Store the mushrooms no more than five to six days on a covered sheet in the refrigerator. Once cooked, the portabella may be stored in freezer bags in the freezer. Remove the stems before cooking.
Before grilling a portabella, lightly brush with oil and season with spices such as salt and pepper. Use either an electric or gas-powered grill, and place the seasoned mushrooms on to the grill plates. Grill for about five to seven minutes on each side for best results. If using an indoor electric grill, you don't need to turn over the mushroom.
To saute a portabella, decide whether to chop, slice or leave the mushroom whole. Saute the mushroom in a skillet with butter or oil (usually a couple pf teaspoons) over medium-high heat until cooked through, or about five minutes. Shake the pan periodically until the juices are released and the portabellas colour. Season with salt, pepper and herbs for taste, or saute the portabella with other foods such as onions and peppers.
To bake portabellas, preheat the oven to 218C. Lightly brush the mushrooms with olive oil on both sides. With cap sides up, place them on a baking tray and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes. Oven-roasted portabellas can be used as appetisers or side dishes.
To cream a portabella mushroom, heat 2 tbsp of butter or olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add about 0.5 Kg of portabella mushrooms and stir often until the mushrooms release and reabsorb their juices. Add 1 cup of double cream, two garlic cloves, salt and pepper. Simmer until the sauce is thickened. Add seasonings such as thyme and parsley if desired.
For a firmer portabella, cook it longer.
Remove the stem from a portabella before grilling or sauteing.
Portabellas can be used as a substitute for meat.
Although low in calories, portabellas absorb high amounts of oil, cream and butter.