When I was a kid one of my favorite sandwiches was a bacon, lettuce, and tomato. A good BLT rocked my world. I loved the smoky, salty flavor of the bacon. The thought of eating a sweet and intelligent pig makes me feel horrible, but I was raised to believe that meat and dairy was an important part of a healthy diet. I gave up eating mammals over twenty years ago, and I’ve never looked back. However, I never lost the craving for smoky and salty food.
Since Alex and I began this blog we’ve been working hard to find alternatives to animal products that will convert even the most hard core carnivore to a plant based only diet. And I think that this Portobello mushroom “bacon” recipe will lure meat eaters into the light. It may not transform them, but I bet that it will make them crave the shroom over Babe.
If you love the flavor of smoked hickory, you are going to be so happy with this easy recipe. Mind you, mushrooms don’t get crispy like bacon (I have some ideas in the works for getting that texture, more to come), but they are meaty. And, a thinly sliced mushroom will closely match slab cut bacon. However, this recipe is all about the flavor anyway, so stay with me.
The story of Portobello Mushroom “Bacon”
As I was cruising the condiments section of my local supermarket (I spend a lot of time looking for different ingredients these days) I stumbled upon across liquid smoke. I’d never heard of the stuff before, so I picked up a bottle and looked at the label. A little jolt of excitement ran through me the moment I realized that I had struck culinary gold. I thought, hmmm, I could use this in veggie burgers to give them a little extra something, or, I could try making a vegan bacon that mimics the flavor of the real stuff! My imagination had shifted into fifth gear and there was no slowing down.
I cruised through the aisles looking for that special ingredient that would put a thick and juicy BLT back into my world. Tofu? No, too squishy. Tempeh? No, not a big fan. And then, I saw a pig pile of Portobello mushrooms, and it was like I had turned off of a dirt road and on to the Autobahn–what’s with the car analogies? Very strange. But, for real, I just knew that the mushrooms would make my quest for vegan bacon a reality. It would be smooth sailing from this point on. Or would it?
For my first attempt at making the “bacon,” I dipped the mushrooms in the liquid smoke and then immediately fried them. They were all right. Not great, not horrible.
The second time I marinated them in the liquid. They were better, they had a good flavor, but it was almost too much of a good thing. I think I let them soak too long. A little bit of liquid smoke goes a long way.
Round Three – Ding-Ding-Ding, WINNER!
Finally, I got it right. I thought about the kind of bacon that my mom used to cook. Maple bacon. I added maple syrup to the liquid smoke and it was perfect. The syrup gave it just enough sweetness, and it gave the mushrooms a stickier coating, which gave them a tiny bit of crispness . This my friends, is really, really good.
I couldn’t wait to put that BLT together and take a bite. Ahhhh, it was as good as I had hoped it would be. Smoky, mapley, salty, yummy goodness, all without harming one living being. That made it taste even better.
Honestly, this is an easy recipe, it doesn’t require any special culinary skills. I promise. As you can see, it makes a fantastic BLT, and you could also dice the mushrooms and put them in a salad, or put the slices on the side of a tofu scrambler. Anything that bacon can be added to, you can add these mushrooms to. How about putting the strips on a grilled veggie burger for a “bacon” burger?
When you try this, let me know what you thought, write a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
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- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- One large Portobello mushroom – washed and patted dry
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 ounces liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pepper to taste
- In a bowl that is large enough to marinate the mushroom slices combine the liquid smoke, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.
- Cut the mushroom into thin strips, no more than a ¼ of an inch thick, and marinate both sides in the liquid mixture. At least 15 minutes per side.
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet and cook the mushrooms for 3 minutes, flip and cook for 3 more minutes. They should be browned and the edges should look crispy.
- For a Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwich toast two pieces of whole grain bread. Add lettuce, sliced tomato, the mushroom bacon, and salt and pepper if desired. You can also spread some vegan mayo on the toast for added flavor.