notes from the mexican kitchen
Taco Tuesday/

These Mushroom Tacos with “Lazy-Ass” Salsa Aren’t Much Work

TacoTuesdayLogo_blueThese grilled mushroom tacos are an unexpectedly delicious diversion from meat-centric, over-the-top fiesta food that typically arrives with summer barbecue season.) I’m thinking about the ribs and twice baked potatoes I’m making in a couple of weeks …)

Now, before you click “delete,” let me tell you what we’re working with here. It’s anything but your typical “vegetarian option.” A bold, citrusy marinade provides a dynamic counterpoint to the earthy portobellos. The salsa huevona adds rustic fire and char and just the right amount of pungency to every bite.
(That salsa, by the way, couldn’t take less effort. It’s name means–as you Spanish speakers know–“lazy ass” salsa, resulting from the fact that you throw tomatoes, chiles and onions on the grill and just leave them there until they’re charred.)
Quick note: You’ll notice that I leave the gills of the mushrooms intact. They don’t bother me like they so some cooks, but by all means feel free to scrape them off, if you wish, before applying the marinade.
Hongos asados al ajo con salsa poblana
Servings: 4as a light meal
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Ingredients

  • 1medium white onion, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds (keep the rounds intact for easy grilling)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4teaspoon cumin, preferably freshly ground
  • Salt
  • 64- to 5-inch (about 1-3/4 pounds total) portobello mushrooms, stems removed and caps wiped clean (you can use a spoon to scrape out the dark gills on the underside of the caps, though it's not really necessary)
  • A little vegetable or olive oil for the onion
  • 12ounces (2 medium-small round or 4 to 6 plum) ripe tomatoes
  • 3medium (about 9 ounces total) fresh poblano chiles
  • 3tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 12warm fresh corn tortillas

Instructions

Marinating the mushrooms: In a food processor or blender, combine 1/3 of the onion, the garlic, 3 tablespoons of the lime juice, the cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Process to a smooth puree. Lay out the mushroom caps in a nonaluminum baking dish. Using a spoon, smear the marinade over both sides of each mushroom cap. Cover and let stand for 1 hour.

Preparing the salsa: Heat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire and let it burn just until the coals are covered with gray ash and very hot. Either turn the burner(s) in the center of the grill to medium-low or bank the coals to the sides of the grill for indirect cooking. Set the cooking grate in place, cover the grill and let the grate heat up, 5 minutes or so.

Brush or spray the remaining onion slices with oil and lay in a single layer in the center (the least hot part) of the grill, along with the tomatoes. Set the chiles over the hottest part. Roast, turning everything occasionally, until the chiles' skin (but not the flesh) is blistered and uniformly blackened all over, about 5 minutes, and the onion and tomatoes are softened and browned in spots, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on their size and the heat. When the chiles are done, remove them and cover with a kitchen towel. Set the tomatoes aside on a plate. Finely chop the onion and scoop it into a bowl.

When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, pull off their skins. Use a mortar to crush them, or place them in a food processor or blender and pulse until coarsely pureed. Add to the chopped onion.

Rub the blackened skin off the chiles, then pull out the stems and seed pods. Rinse briefly to remove any stray seeds and bits of skin. Chop into small bits and stir half into the tomato-onion mixture along with the remaining 1 tablespoon, lime juice and the cilantro. Taste, season with salt, usually about 3/4 teaspoon, and then scoop into a serving bowl.

Grilling the mushrooms: Remove the mushrooms from the marinade, spray or brush them with oil and lay gill side up over the hot part of the grill. Cook until browned in spots, about 5 minutes, then flip and move to the center of the grill - the cooler part - and continue grilling until they feel a little limp but still have some body, about 10 minutes more.

Serving the tacos: Cut the mushrooms into 1/4-inch strips. Scoop into a warm serving dish and mix with the remaining chopped poblanos. Season with salt, usually about 1/4 teaspoon. Set the mushrooms on the table along with the salsa and hot tortillas - everything you need for making wonderful soft tacos.

Working ahead: The mushroom caps can remain in their marinade for as long as 24 hours, covered in the refrigerator. The salsa will keep nicely (covered and refrigerated) for a day or so. The mushrooms are best cooked shortly before serving.

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