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November 08, 2010: Portobello-Radicchio Hors d’oeuvre

November 8, 2010

Here’s a unique and healthy hors d’oeuvre that’s pretty, pretty easy, doesn’t take a lot of time and is good for those serving vegetarians (at least those that are lacto-ovo vegetarians, for those pure vegetarians just omit cheese.)

Portobello mushrooms are the hero of the mushroom world. Some mushrooms have more flavor and some have more distinct flavors, but none beat the “beefyness” of the portobello. Portobello are really over sized cremini mushrooms. The little sister of portobello are great in a soup or an omlette, but for this dish the size of portobello works best. Even kids like portobello. A couple of weekends ago I was making chicken with a velouté sauce in bouchées and little Katie was fine helping me prepare them but she gave me fair warning that she would not try the portobello I was putting on top! Not only did we get her to try them, but she asked for more!

Radicchio is actually leaf chicory (sometimes called Italian Chicory), not a lettuce, per se, and as such can be bitter on its own, but tends to mellow a bit when roasted. The grapefruit-sized red and white head that we find in our markets is Radicchio di Chioggia.

Portobello-Radicchio Hors d’oeuvre

  • 1 Head Radicchio
  • 2 Portobello Mushrooms (more if needed; 2 medium mushrooms will make 6 pieces)
  • Sliced (round) Provolone Cheese
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • About 1/4C. Olive Oil (virgin)
  • 2 Tblsps. Red Wine
  • Spices: About 1/4Teasp. of Salt, Pepper and Herb de Provence
  • Wooden Toothpicks (1 per each hors d’oeuvre)

If you can find untrimmed portobello, that would be the best. They will have a thick stem that’s pretty dirty. Here’s a trick I learned at the restaurant: you actually don’t have to wash a portobello, in fact it’s better if you don’t. Simply remove the stem where it is dirty with a sharp knife (keep the stem for stock.) Now, flip the mushroom so that the gills are up. Grab the skin part of the edge of the mushroom and pull. You will remove a piece of the top of  the mushroom. Keep pulling like this until you have gone all the way around. You might have a piece of the skin still on the center of a big mushroom which you can remove with a sharp paring knife (I put all the skin in a baggie and then into the freezer for the next stock I make.) You now have a clean mushroom. Slice into 1/2-3/4″ pieces. Oil a grill pan and under medium high heat grill the mushroom slices on both sides and put on a paper towel. [I like the style of grill pan shown above, so I can get nice “tiger stripes” on the mushroom slices, but any grill pan will do. ]

If you are careful you will be able to pull 1/2 of a leaf of radicchio at a time. Cut each 1/2 leaf to get a 1/4 leaf. Cut provolone slices in half. You will see that the edges of the provolone line up with (and are a little smaller than) each piece of radicchio. Put provolone on top of radicchio leaf. Wrap the mushroom  and tack at a 20° in and down through hors d’oeuvre. Place each hors d’oeuvre back on grill pan and baste with juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 Tblsps. red wine, and 2 Tblsps. olive oil. Add spices. Grill under broiler until cheese is melted and/or radicchio starts to grill. Baste a little with the wine/lemon/oil. Remove with tongs to warmed plate. Serve immediately.

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