Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chicken-Fried Portobello + Mushroom & Shallot Gravy

"Everything's better chicken-fried," my buddy Aaron exclaimed when I told him what I had made for dinner one recent night. I had to agree. In this recipe, a meaty portobello mushroom graciously stands in for steak in this vegetarian take on a Southern classic, chicken-fried steak. 

I used to eat chicken-fried steak all the time when I was a kid. My grandmother would make it, and we'd have the same conversation every time. "What is it, Mamaw?" I'd ask, "Chicken or steak?" She joke around and tell me it's both. Now the answer is neither. Though her food was always delicious, I like this meatless version best.

Chicken-Fried Portobello Mushroom

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon each: salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and sweet paprika
2 eggs (whisked)
1/8 cup cream
3 portobello mushroom (stemmed, trimmed)
1 cup canola oil
Shallot and Mushroom Gravy (recipe follows)
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

Combine the flour with the spices in a mixing bowl large enough to accommodate one mushroom at a time. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the eggs and cream. 

Now trim the mushrooms by removing the stems and the part of the cap that hangs over the gill side; doing this will create a flat surface, which will make it much easier to pan-fry your mushrooms. Reserve the trimmings because you will use them in the gravy. 

Heat the oil to medium high in a 12-inch frying pan. Depending on the size of the mushrooms, this pan should accommodate all three at once. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees. Now, batter the mushrooms using a three-step process: toss them in the flour mixture, coat them with the egg mixture, then dredge them in the flour mixture. This should help plenty of spiced flour to adhere to the mushroom. Fry mushrooms for about two minutes per side. 

Place mushrooms on a baking sheet and finish cooking them through in the oven. This should take about 15 minutes, which is the perfect amount of time to make your gravy.

To serve, smother mushroom with gravy and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with your favorite side vegetable such as garden-grown green beans with garlic and tomatoes.

Shallot and Mushroom Gravy

1 tablespoon of butter
trimmings from the mushrooms (finely chopped)
1/2 cup shallot (minced)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup strong broth (preferably mushroom)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
sea salt 

Melt butter in a 10-inch frying pan over medium heat. Add the trimmings and shallots. Once the shallot is translucent, add the flour and cook until nutty and fragrant. Add the broth and milk as you whisk. Slowly bring mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Mixture should be thick like pancake batter after a few minutes. Season with black pepper and sea salt.


  1. It's really good. I think this is the 1st dish I came up with specifically for the book.

  2. You were right. It's really, really good. I think I could eat that gravy on an old shoe and it would still be delicious. I have just a couple of minor comments. After trimming the mushrooms, should I cut the trimmings up small before putting them in with the shallots? I assumed yes. Also, I only ended up using about half of the spiced flour and egg mixture for the batter, even after putting it on pretty thick. Should I have coated even thicker? Or maybe you could cut the recipe for the batter in half? Finally, the recipe calls for cream for the egg mixture and milk for the gravy. Could I possibly have used whole milk for both? Since we're not cereal eaters or coffee drinkers around our house, I only use milk and cream when I'm cooking and feel like it would be better to just buy one or the other.
    We ate the chicken-fried portabellos with twice-baked potatoes and citrusy green beans with pine nuts. It made for a perfect down-home dinner. As a former vegetarian who is trying to eat more vegetarian, I didn't miss the meat one bit! This is yet another one going in the permanent collection. You two are truly talented!

  3. You made my day! That's really all I want is for people to eat their veggies. I want to say a sincere thank you to you for taking such an interest in pitching in over here at the testing site. It means a lot and we really appreciate it.

    I made the changes you suggested save for the flour mixture. I hate to waste, but it's very difficult to dredge the mushroom if there isn't enough material there. I could instruct to put them in a paper bag and shake it. Think that'd work? Like shake n' bake. That way we could use less flour. I'll take a look.

    So glad you liked it!

  4. "It's Shake 'n' Bake, and I helped!"

    It's been my pleasure! I love to cook, and I love to eat even more. It's been fun getting people together to test these out. And, as one of my friends said a couple of weeks ago, "It's really great to see Memphis people that we know getting s*%t done." I think I'm going to aim for the tofu almandine and the strawberry/basil sliders for next week. Suggestions for a side item? Maybe an orzo or angel hair pasta?

    So, for future reference, yes or no on swapping the milk for the cream on the egg mixture above?

  5. I'd love it if you did the almondine. I served it over wilted greens with garlic.

    Yes on the swap. I use what I have really. It won't make a huge swing either way.

    Getting it done,