This recipe is inspired by the portobello mushroom cutlets my mother in law gets from Wegmans (the best grocery store) in upstate New York as an easy weeknight meal. Of course, they are not vegan - they have some egg whites and parmesan cheese - and so I had to recreate the recipe for myself!
We cook down the mushrooms first so that they release most of their moisture and take on a firm, chewy texture. This is an absolutely key step to get a chewy, satisfying texture to the mushrooms - see below how the mushrooms change in size after pre-cooking and reducing out all of the liquid (uncooked on the left, cooked on the right):
Then, we bread the mushrooms with a triple-coating of flour, a liquid batter, and a breadcrumb mixture. Finally, we bake them in an air fryer or oven to cook the breading and give an ultimate crisp.
For cooking down the mushrooms mushrooms:
1/2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 tsp salt
4 large portabella mushroom caps
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp flax seed meal
2 tbsp nondairy milk
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (or use regular breadcrumbs and add some dried basil or oregano)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp grated vegan parmesan* (I prefer Follow Your Heart)
*If you can only find a shredded variety of vegan parmesan, you can place it in your blender and pulse to blitz it up into a finer, grated parmesan. I often can only find the shredded version of my favorite Follow Your Heart parmesan, and I blend it up routinely.
Part 1: cook the mushrooms
Add the cooking oil to a skillet (non-stick or cast iron works), and heat over medium-high heat.
Add the mushrooms to the pan (you can do 2 at a time if you cannot fit all 4), and sprinkle with the 1/2 tsp of salt. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on one side, then flip and cook for 2-3 minutes on the other side.
When the mushrooms just start to soften (after 2-3 minutes on each side), place a large, heavy pot directly on top of the mushrooms (be sure to clean the outside of your pot first!). See the picture above for my setup.
Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 5 minutes uninterrupted on on side.
After 5 minutes, remove the heavy pot, flip the mushrooms, and replace the pot. Cook for another 5 minutes on this side. When you are done, the mushrooms should have a dense texture and be very reduced in size from when they started, to about 1/3 of the size - see the picture at the top of the blog post for how they should look!
Part 2: Bread and cook the mushrooms
Preheat your air fryer or oven to 350 degrees.
In one bowl, place the flour. In a second bowl, place all ingredients for the wet batter and whisk together with a fork. Let this mixture stand for at least 5 minutes, then whisk again. In a third bowl, place the ingredients for the the breadcrumb mixture and mix to combine.
Take each pre-cooked mushroom. First, dip both sides in the flour, then the wet mixture, and then the breadcrumb mixture, and immediately place on your air fryer tray or on the pan you plan to bake them on. If you are baking the mushrooms in the oven, I recommend baking on top of a cooling rack on your pan, so that air can circulate on both sides of the mushrooms.
For the air fryer: air fry for 10 minutes, then flip and air fry for another 10 minutes. The mushrooms are done when the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
For the oven: Ovens tend to cook a little slower than air fryers, so bake for about 15 minutes on each side instead of 10 minutes.
To serve, add tomato sauce, vegan parmesan, and serve with pasta or on a ciabatta sandwich!