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Beautiful and delicious: grilled portabella
photo and recipe courtesy
One popular mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, is known by quite a few names. But a portabella by any other name is still one of the tastiest mushrooms around (not to mention, the largest cultivated mushroom).
When young, the mushroom has a closed cap and is known as a crimini or brown mushroom, and can be used in the same way as a white button mushroom (but the crimini is much tastier).
When mature, with the gills exposed, the mushroom is called a portabella. (Additional names for the portabella include Italian mushroom and Roman mushroom, among others.)
The cap averages 4 to 5 inches in diameter, larger than a burger. The mushroom can grow up to 8 inches in diameter—an inch larger than a salad plate.
One of the nicest features of the portabella is its thick cap, the thickest in the mushroom world. This feature provides a unique meatiness—both in texture and flavor—and grilled portabellas are often enjoyed as a stand-in for meat in vegetarian dishes.
Due to the popularity of the species, smaller strains of Agaricus bisporus with darker flesh were bred and are sold as baby portobello, baby bella, crimini, mini bella and portabellini mushrooms.
Now for the spelling:
Is it portabella, portobella or portobello?
All three spellings are correct, with portobello being the most common. Call them whatever you want: Just call them for dinner!
This recipe, by chef and restaurateur James Boyce, makes a beautiful presentation as a first course or a light lunch entrée.
The grilled portabella is filled with herbed salad and rests on a bed of baked goat cheese.
How many types of mushrooms have you tried? See our Mushroom Glossary.
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