When country women find big, meaty-tasting mushrooms, they grill the caps whole until they're browned and crusty, just like steak. Adelina Norcia, who farms in Sicily, brushes her mushrooms with her "holy oil" before she places them on the wood-fired grill that stands outside the kitchen door of her farmhouse. Crisped and spicy, the mushrooms are infused with Adelina's holy trinity of garlic, oregano, and chile, all pureed in olive oil from the trees on her property. She serves them like meat, with a salad and bread. Try them the same way, and cook them on top of the stove when outdoor grilling isn't possible.

Ingredients

From The Italian Country Table, by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Serves 6 as an antipasto, 2 to 4 as a main dish

When country women find big, meaty-tasting mushrooms, they grill the caps whole until they're browned and crusty, just like steak. Adelina Norcia, who farms in Sicily, brushes her mushrooms with her "holy oil" before she places them on the wood-fired grill that stands outside the kitchen door of her farmhouse. Crisped and spicy, the mushrooms are infused with Adelina's holy trinity of garlic, oregano, and chile, all pureed in olive oil from the trees on her property. She serves them like meat, with a salad and bread. Try them the same way, and cook them on top of the stove when outdoor grilling isn't possible.

Cook to Cook
Once you've made "holy oil," use it right away. Keeping it more than a day, even in the refrigerator, could encourage the growth of harmful bacteria. Since everything whirls together in seconds in a processor or blender, making the oil ahead is of no benefit.

Wine Suggestion
A Sicilian red Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Agrigento Rosso, or Corvo

  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Generous 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried hot chile (such as anchos, New Mexican string chiles, or Italian peperoncini) or hot pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound portobello mushrooms
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. In a blender, puree together the garlic, oregano, chile, and oil. If possible, let mellow an hour or so at room temperature.

2. Remove the mushroom stems and save for another use. Clean the caps with a damp cloth and trim away any bruised or tough areas. Arrange the caps on a platter and season on both sides with the "holy oil." Marinate at room temperature 15 minutes to a couple of hours.

3. Prepare a hot grill outdoors, or heat a griddle, gridded skillet, or saute pan until browned on all sides. Move the mushrooms away from the hottest coals, or reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook 4 minutes longer, or until tender when pressed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature. For an antipasto, quarter the caps; serve whole for a main dish.

Instructions