Got a Beef with Vegetarianism?

“If God didn’t want us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat?

–Homer Simpson

As a vegetarian who is married to a meat eater, I have learned to temper my zealousness for the sake of our happy union. And because I’m mellow. I could get into the reasons that led to my becoming a vegetarian 15 years ago (uses up land, water, resources, animals treated inhumanely by mass producers, leads to more pollution, waste, famine, bad for health, etc,) but that’s not the focus of this post. Plus, I know that meat can be delicious. I understand why people eat meat.

So, I thought I’d share one of my favorite meaty (vegetarian) recipes. It looks like meat, it tastes like meat, it’s really one of the most delicious things you will put into your mouth this month. Or your money back! I’ve made this recipe 5 or 6 times and by golly, I think I’ve perfected it!

Scout’s Portabella French Dip Sammies
Au Jus.
-Serves 4-

-2 cups button or crimini mushrooms
-5 cloves garlic, divided
-4 tbsp tamari soy sauce
-4 portabella mushrooms
-a few stems of fresh thyme, or herb of your choice (sage, oregano, etc)
-1/2 cup olive oil
-3 tbsp butter
-1 onion
-salt and ground pepper
-4 slices provolone
-a few handfuls of quatro formaggio (or some type of salty cheese)
-4 chewy baguettes or ciabatta rolls (I use ciabatta rolls from Trader Joe’s)

Preheat your oven to 350

Make the Jus. Chop the stems off your portabellas and toss those and the button or crimini mushrooms into a pot along with 3 peeled and crushed garlic cloves, a few sprigs of thyme (or another herb of your choice) and about 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil then let simmer until it reduces by about 2/3rds. This should take an hour or so. Next strain the jus through a coffee filter (mostly to remove the dirt, although you can clean ‘shrooms with a paper towel before you put them in the pot instead, I find it easier to strain afterwards). You can toss the mushrooms and garlic, all you want is the jus. You should have about a cup or so. It doesn’t have ot be exact. Add the tamari and taste to correct seasoning.

In the meantime, brush your portabellas on both sides with olive oil, generously salt and pepper both sides, and bake on a baking sheet, gills down, for about 25 minutes, or until they’re juicy (but before they’re desiccated). Slice mushrooms into thin strips. About 10 slices per mushroom, set aside.

Keep the oven on. Slice the onion into thin rings and saute ©ed in a little olive oil over low heat for ten minutes or so, until they’re brownish and caramelized.

Now slice open your ciabata. Take the onions out of the saute © pan, add a few tbsp of butter to the pan, chop up two cloves of garlic really well and toss that in, and chop up some thyme while you’re at it and toss that in the pan too. Before the garlic browns place each half of your bread cut side down in the butter garlic thyme mixture. Cook until you get a crispy golden hue on the sliced side of the bread. Please don’t burn it. That would ruin everything.

Now it’s time to assemble your sammie. Start with a slice of provolone, add the portabella slices and the grilled onions, and top with a handful of your 4 cheese blend. Put the top of the roll on and set all four sammies close together on a baking tray. Put them in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and they look golden and beautiful. Tip: I like to put a cast iron skillet on top of the sandwiches during this step, so they come out of the oven more compact. Picture a panini. I find them easier to handle after they’ve been smooshed. And easier to dip without losing innards in the pool of jus.

Slice these babies up and serve au a side of jus. Thank me later.