How It Got Its Name
A brown crimini mushroom is a juvenile portobello. There as many theories on the heritage of the name as there were for why is a Flatiron steak called a Flatiron steak! We referred to Elizabeth Schneider's vegetable bible "Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini" for some truth and learned that the only information available is theory. It seems that there are as many "origins" as there are experts to quote them. Here are some of the main ones:
Named after Portobello Road in London which has many high end antique shops and other fashionable establishments.
Named after a T.V. show called Portobello
The portobello in Northern Italy is called "cappellone" which means "big hat".
The most important thing to know is that it is a big brown mushroom. Its little brother (crimini) is a little brown mushroom.
Buy and Store
Select plump firm and solid mushrooms. Avoid the limp or dried looking ones. They should not be shriveled or slippery (which indicates decomposition). The mushroom should have a nice earthy smell.
Remove the mushrooms from any wrapping and spread on a tray and cover with paper toweling. Don't moisten the toweling or the mushrooms and place them in the refrigerator in an area that allows the air to circulate. Avoid placing any other items on top of them. The mushrooms should keep about 5 - 6 days.
Cooked Portabellas can be frozen and will keep for several months. Place in freezer containers or bags, excluding as much air as possible. (Uncooked mushrooms don't freeze well.)
Basic Grilled Portobello
Brush mushrooms on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill for 5 to 6 minutes on each side until just cooked through.
Brush Portobellos with oil. Place on a baking sheet cap sides up. Roast in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes.
In a skillet, cook sliced, chopped or whole mushrooms in a little oil or butter over medium-high heat, stirring or turning until tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Other ingredients such as onions, peppers, and garlic, can be cooked along with the mushrooms. Season with your favorite herbs or spices.
The longer you cook the portobella the meatier (firmer textured) the mushroom gets.