Portabello Mise en Place

Allow me to welcome you to Morrell’s very first edition of In the Kitchen at Morrell, a new monthly publication that we are extremely excited about.

It all started with a simple question of, “How can we provide an even better experience for our customers?”

Morrell is made up of a number of talented people who all bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. Maybe one them can recommend a great bottle of wine from our retail store. Another may be able to tell you how to best pair that bottle with food. While another is a chef who can develop an original recipe to go with that wine. When you put all of these people and their talents together, you have the answer to our question.

In the Kitchen at Morrell will provide a new recipe each month with pairings from both of our Sommeliers. What’s more, each month the recipe and wine pairings featured here will be available at The Morrell Wine Bar, so you can not only make the dish for yourself but also visit us and compare your versions to ours.

So pull out your cutting boards, knives, glasses, and a favorite bottle of wine–and let’s get started.

Let’s Welcome Spring Flavors Back Into The Kitchen

Spring is finally upon us, and I couldn’t be happier. To me, Spring means fresh flavors and smells from the garden, as well as sitting outside to enjoy my favorite meals. It’s that time of year when everything seems new, and the last thing we want to be doing is spending hours in the kitchen.

Chef Juan Carlos Mendoza’s Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms is just the thing to put you in a seasonal mood. The flavors are rich and complex, yet at the same time vibrant. This is a dish that will tempt your senses while satisfying your craving for spring flavors. It’s also incredibly easy to make. Don’t let all the steps scare you; once you dig into this recipe, you’ll see just how easy it really is.

Don’t forget about the wine pairings either, because this dish is the perfect example of how things don’t always pair in a way that you might think.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Roasted portobello Mushrooms, stuffed with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella cheese, sautéed baby spinach, topped with sunny-side-up fried egg, and drizzled with black truffle essence.

Ingredients (Serves four)

4 Regular size portobello mushrooms
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp minced shallots a
Salt/ fresh black pepper
6 leaves fresh basil
1 tsp Chopped fresh Thyme
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
4 eggs
1 bag pre-washed spinach
2 tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
Black Truffle oil


For the Tomatoes

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. Mix The Tomatoes, thyme, 1 tsp of garlic, and olive oil, together in a bowl and toss to coat.
  3. Place on a baking dish
  4. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned

For the Mushrooms

  1. Place an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven.
  2. Remove the stems from your mushrooms and scraped out the gills with a spoon.
  3. Place the caps gill-side down and cut a shallow “X” on the top of each mushroom.
  4. Brush the whole cap on both sides with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Place them on the hot baking tray in the oven, gill-side up.
  6. After 10 minutes of roasting, flipped the mushrooms and then cooked them for an additional 5 minutes (15 minutes total).

Stuffing the Mushrooms

  1. Once the tomatoes and Portobellos are roasted, stuff each Mushroom with roasted tomatoes.
  2. Thinly slice your basil. (chiffonad) and sprinkle over the tomatoes.
  3. Top each mushroom with the mozzarella.
  4. Place back into the oven until they are golden brown.

The Sauteed Spinach

  1. In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat olive oil and garlic over low-medium heat.
  2. Add shallot or onion, a pinch of salt, and allow to sweat for a 1 – 2 minutes
  3. Add spinach and lightly salt. Cook until wilted.

Preparing your fried eggs

  1. Heat a large, non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat. (A pan large enough to hold 2-3 eggs at a time with a bit of space between them and thereby prevent generating steam.)
  2. Pour about ½ teaspoon of water into the heated pan. If water sizzles and evaporates on the pan, it means that pan is hot enough to hold the eggs in the right form.
  3. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil or any vegetable oil of your preference, or butter. (If using butter, let it melt.) * You don’t need a large amount of fat to fry the eggs because the pan is non-stick and you don’t want the eggs to turn out greasy.
  4. Crack the eggs gently into the pan to keep the yolks intact (remember: do not overcrowd the pan. Rather, keep a space in between the two eggs). Note: An egg ring can be used to keep the eggs round and yolks centered if desired.
  5. As the eggs cook, their color will change from clear to opaque white. Cook until the tops of the whites are set but the yolk is still runny. This will take about two minutes. Meanwhile, if the oil starts to spit it is a sign that the oil is too hot…In this case, please turn the heat down to low.

Assembling your plate:

  1. Pour the spinach into the egg ring and gently press down to release the juice.
  2. Bring the stuffed mushroom over and place gently on top.
  3. Next add your egg and drizzle each with truffle oil.

Recipe by Chef Juan Carlos Mendoza

Available as well in easy to print PDF.

Wine Pairings

Pairing food and wine is not a science, it’s an art. There are many ways to approach food and wine pairings. Most people start with the most basic: white wine with fish and chicken, and red wine with red meat. This may be a good place to start, but very quickly you’ll find that the lines become blurred as you dig deeper into the different regions and grape varieties. Many Pinot Noir lovers in Oregon will swear that one of their best pairings is with Salmon–just as a rich white Burgundy might overwhelm all but the most complicated fish preparations.

One of my personal favorite sayings is, “what grows together, goes together.” I learned through a lifetime of cooking Italian food that each region, each appellation, and each town would have their own specialties and unique wines that go with them. It makes sense when you consider that a chef in a small Italian village would be tasting their local wine while developing new recipes from the produces grown outside their kitchen. Little tips such as these are great starting points, but the fact is that the best way to learn about food and wine pairings is to simply jump in and begin tasting. Be daring, and you never know what you may discover.

Our Sommeliers have built a career on helping people find the best wine for their meals. They literally spend every day tasting and pairing, as well as conversing with other professionals to discover new ideas and keep track of trends. Each of them brings a unique perspective, which I’ve witnessed first-hand. The most exciting thing about this project was the ah-ha moment that Anna-Christian and Christian’s pairings came to life against the flavors and textures of the Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms. Both pairings were fantastic for completely different reasons–and that’s a big part of the fun!

Anna-Christina Cabrales

Pairing: Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets 2014 (Chardonnay / white)

Why it works: In our previous pairings, we did a great job with accentuating the dish with the wine. However, my pairing for the Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with the 2014 Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets is a great example of how I like to dine: take a simple and delicious dish and make a complex wine the superstar. All of the ingredients in the portobello dish begs for white Burgundy, and the Cailleret definitely delivers. The wine is perfumed with white floral tones, and the wonderful chalkiness of Les Caillerets is present and brightens the earthy flavors in the dish. The wine is as elegant as it is full-bodied yet balanced with racy acidity that draws you in for another sip.

This for sure will be my daily “go to.”

My thoughts: Anna-Christina went for the balance of restrained power, tantalizing acidity and minerality as the perfect way to bring the dish to life. From the moment you sip the Ramonet and then take another bite, an explosion of flavors fill your palate. Here we find an example of a wine amplifying the flavors of the recipe, which in turn accentuated the minerality of the wine. The dial is turned all the way up, and the result is an intensity of flavor and a mouthwatering experience. I love it. Eric Guido

Christian Fentress

Pairing: David Duband Bourgogne Rough 2014 (Pinot Noir / red)

Why it works: The David Duband was the perfect pairing for Chef’s Portobello Mushroom. The natural earth and floral tones complement the earthy qualities of the roasted mushroom and enhanced the natural flavor of the spinach. The bright acidity of the wine also helped to cut the richness of the egg yolk.

My thoughts: I loved this pairing because it was unexpected and fun. The red fruit of the Pinot Noir really made the cherry tomato flavors POP! It also had beautiful contrasts as the acidity of the wine accentuated the saltiness of the mozzarella and the earth tones of the mushroom and truffle. The wine is simply classic, balanced and perfect for food. Each bite seemed like the first here. Eric Guido

To sum it all up:

I think it’s time to get cooking. After tasting the Stuff Portobello Mushrooms, I can tell you that I honestly can’t wait to try this again in a more relaxed setting, and absolutely with one of these two wine pairings. One of the biggest take-aways here is that you don’t need to fear pairing red wine with a veggie heavy dish. Keep in mind that we are talking about Pinot Noir from Burgundy, which means more refined flavors and fruit.

Don’t forget, if you want to see how our Chef and Somms in action, then stop in throughout the month of May to enjoy this dish with pairings at The Morrell Wine Bar.

Until next month, keep cooking and tasting!

Eric Guido