If a man cannot or will not cook, he is not a man. All REAL men – manly men, if you will – know how to cook, and by cook I don’t mean scurry around a studio kitchen yelling “BAM!” and cooking stuff most ordinary chefs don’t cook, like that wretched little Emeril does on his stupid Food Network show. Honestly…what kind of serious chef has his own studio band, complete with an African-American Doc Severinsen? I learned to cook because my mother – God rest her soul – was a superb cook. When I moved out and lived on my own, I had no choice but to teach myself the arcane ways of the kitchen. And now I happily pass what I have learned along to you, gentle reader.
The adult portabella mushroom is one of the heartiest of edible fungi, with a well-deserved reputation for having a firm, meaty texture and agreeable flavor. It has even been grilled and served on a bun as a vegan substitute for a hamburger- with great success. Regular readers know that I am a huge fan of mushrooms, as is the lovely and ever-gracious Nicole, for whom I cooked a delicious supper yesterday after we took Max and Gia out for a long walk.
She wanted something simple and delicious, so I made her something simple and delicious: New York strip steak accompanied by a crabmeat-stuffed Portabella mushroom.
This recipe serves 4 people and should include a tossed salad of simple greens with a red wine vinaigrette. Merlot wine goes very well with this dish.
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a cake cooling rack on a cookie sheet and put this on the middle in the oven.
4 New York strip steaks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 Large adult portabella mushroom caps, at least 4″ in diameter
1 lb. fresh lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp each: garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano and thyme
4 tbsp butter
½ cup minced yellow onions
¼ cup minced celery
¼ minced green bell peppers
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 large cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tbsp tabasco sauce
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmagiano cheese
Transfer crab meat to a large bowl and inspect for any stray shell or cartilage fragments. Add all the paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano and thyme. Toss gently to incorporate spices.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat until the foaming subsides, then add the minced onion, celery and green pepper. Cook for about 4 minutes until tender and then add the garlic and parsley. Cook for an additional minute or so and then remove from heat.
Empty the contents of three of four ice trays into a large saucepan. Place the pan with the hot veggies on the ice in the larger saucepan so they can cool.
Gently remove the stem from each of the mushroom heads and then scrape away the black gills using a spoon. Discard the stem and gills. Brush bottom of each mushroom cap with melted butter.
Add the cooled veggies to the crab meat in the bowl and stir gently with a wooden spoon to mix well. Add the mayonnaise, egg, lemon juice, Worcestershire and hot sauce and stir gently again with a large wooden spoon. Finally, add the panko, salt and pepper and continue mixing until well incorporated.
Scoop roughly ½ to ¾ cup of the stuffing onto each of the mushroom caps and press gently to smooth into a mound. Brush the surface of the stuffing with melted butter and then sprinkle liberally with grated Parmagiano cheese. Place the caps on a cookie sheet and put the sheet on the upper rack in the oven. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees F. You will have some stuffing left over: refrigerate and use within 3 days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
After the mushrooms have been baking for 15 minutes, dry off the steaks with paper towels, rub each one on both sides with canola oil and then sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and pepper. Place a large cast iron skillet (at least 12″ or big enough to fit all 4 steaks) on high heat for 5 minutes to get it rocket-hot. Place the steaks in the skillet and leave them there for 3 minutes – DO NOT TOUCH THEM DURING THIS TIME. After three minutes, flip the steaks and let the other sides brown for 4 minutes. Transfer to the rack/cookie sheet that you placed in the oven earlier.
The heat in the oven will finish cooking the steaks – check every couple of minutes until the desired doneness is achieved. Remove rack/cookie sheet from oven and let the steaks rest for five minutes. By this time, the cheese on the mushrooms should be a nice golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to warm dinner plates. Place a steak on each of the plates along with a helping of salad.