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Take a moment and read the lyric quote above.
As a music fan and industry veteran of a certain age (*cough*OLD*cough*), I refused to believe the Billie Eilish hype. Some fricking 17-year old crushing it on her debut?!? Cool story bro, what other hype do you wanna feed me? I mean sure, easy to impress the YouTubeInstaMillenGen but how about someone with a REAL understanding of musical history and greatness. (Yes, this line of thought is predicated on the “Back In My Day…” mentality.)
Then I heard saw the “Bad Guy” video which led me to the album which led me to understand that artistic brilliance still exists in pop music. Look, I’m a cynical curmudgeon. I’ve got 40 years as a music fan with half of those years in the music biz. I still listen to a ton of new music and like a lot of what I hear. I have just become accustomed to the viral hype not meeting the actual output. That’s what floored me about Eilish. 17-years old, working in a home studio with her collaborator brother and dropping literally the best album from start to finish I’ve heard in years. Again, look at that lyric quote above. That’s not the writing of some fluffy pop princess. That’s old soul shit. Her debut is an “All Killer No Filler” gem which adds pressure for the sophomore effort. I have few doubts it’ll be at least solid if not equally as brilliant.
Technically, I know I’d have to tweak this if I was serving it to Ms. Eilish. While she was raised vegetarian, she has since gone vegan. It honestly isn’t that much of a stretch. You’ll need a vegan mozzarella, which honestly I don’t believe exists, but if you’re vegan you’ll love. Also, swap the mayo in the Horsey Sauce for Aquifaba sauce or vegan mayo. If given the opportunity to make this for Billie, I’d gladly take the vegan tweak challenge. (HINT HINT)
I spent much of my professional cooking career creating menus with at least one sandwich item to satisfy vegetarians. I had a BBQ joint sandwich called the 12XU that consisted of pimento cheese, chow relish, and pickled jalapeno, all of which required a mad amount of prep time. I worked at a fancy sandwich joint making organic farm-to-table deep-fried squash blossoms and fried green tomato sandwiches at ridiculous NYC prices. When consulting for a pub in my neighborhood, I went with a falafel burger that was WAY too much labor for the end result. It’s no wonder most restaurants and bars default to portobello mushroom “burgers” for a vegetarian sandwich item.
Sadly, that “burger” has been done to death and is rarely satisfying. Grilling or frying a portobello, slapping it on a bun with the usual burger topping or even fancy topping shows a definite lack of mushroom creativity. Surely, much like the Dark Side Of The Shroom proves portobellos can be used to make a killer Sloppy Joe, there must be other ways to create great mushroom-based sandwiches.
I’m going to state right at the top, this is NOT a “Mushroom Cheesesteak.” It’s a “Mushroom Melt” and there is a key difference. A cheesesteak requires MEAT! If I’m going to cook a plant-based recipe, I am not going to give it a carnivore-based name. Call that vegetarian or vegan sandwich what it is or make up a new name. You’re helping no one if you’re naming a meat-free dish after meat.
That said, Asian marinated cheesesteak is the basis for this recipe. I marinate the sliced mushrooms and onions just as I would with beef or chicken. Cooking relies on a hot cast iron skillet to get a solid caramelization on the mushrooms. I do not marinate the peppers as I want them to retain that pepper heat and bite. Plus, they will pick up plenty of the marinade flavor when cooked with the mushrooms and onions.
Do not overthink the cheese for this. Go with simple deli provolone. Aged cheeses will not give you the melt factor you want here. The same goes for the sub roll. Skip the fancy artisan bakery and head for the soft squishy roll 8-packs in the bread aisle. Pull the whole thing together with some quick Horsey Sauce and you’ll have a mushroom melt that’ll even satisfy a carnivore.
I’M A FUNGI (MELT!)
Marinated Portobello mushrooms, Horsey Sauce, sweet onion, scallions, red pepper, poblano pepper, jalapeno, and provolone on a sub roll
Makes 2-3 sandwiches
3-4 large Portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and cut into 1/4” slices
4 scallions, sliced fine – use both green and white parts
1/2 onion, sliced thin
1 red pepper, julienne
1 poblano, julienne
1 jalapeno, julienne
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Provolone cheese, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup mirin
2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flake
1/4 cup pear, shredded with skin on
Combine the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine thoroughly. Set aside.
In a large lidded container, layer the mushroom slices, scallion, and onion. Pour in the marinade. Cover and shake to coat the mushrooms. Place in the refrigerator for four hours.
When mushrooms are finished marinating, julienne the peppers and set aside. Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When skillet is hot, add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the peppers and toss to coat in the hot oil. Fry the peppers for five minutes.
While the peppers are frying, drain the mushroom and onion mixture and add to the skillet. Stir to combine all vegetables. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until all of the moisture has cooked off, the peppers are tender, and the mushrooms have caramelized. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Reduce the skillet heat to medium.
To assemble the sub, take 1 cup of the mushroom mixture and place in pan spread out to the length of your sub roll. Top with three slices of provolone. Cover pan to melt the cheese. While the cheese is melting, spread a generous amount of Horsey Sauce inside your sub roll. Once the cheese has melted, use a long spatula to transfer the mushroom melt filling from the pan to the roll. Finish with a few dashes of hot sauce if that’s your thing.
Grab napkins because this is definitely getting messy.
Makes about 1/2 cup
1/2 cup mayo
2 tablespoons Horseradish (add more if you want spicier)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
In a medium bowl, combine the Horsey Sauce ingredients and whisk to thoroughly combine. Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge to let the flavors meld.