I'm in full-tilt get-it-in-before-it-gets-chilly grillin' mode these days, as a kind of farewell to this ridiculously hot summer. That I'm bidding farewell with total relief, but if you've ever tried throwing something on the coals in the middle of December, you know what I'm talking about - it's a warm weather thing. I tried grilled pizzas last January and ended up with hockey pucks topped with unmelted cheese that tasted like gasoline. Eh.
I've done a lot of marinading this year, but still hadn't settled on a Mexican flavor wash that I liked - until last weekend, when we were doing some Labor Day cooking at a pal's in Wilmington. He had one of those chili kits in his cabinet, came with the usuals (cayenne, garlic, onion powders). Add some smoked paprika, chili powder, a little extra cumin, green onions minced fine, some tomato paste, and a lot of fresh garlic, and you've got a savory, spicy marinade that goes fantastically with salsa, guac, tortillas, todos. More importantly - it sticks well to the slippery sides of zucchini and the smooth backs of mushroom caps.
for the marinade:
1/2 small can tomato paste
1/2 cup olive or corn oil
1/2 cup water (or cider vinegar, for a sharp flavor, or water left over after all the salsa's gone, like we used)
1/2 bunch scallions, minced fine
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tablespoon salt
1 tsp sugar
In a bowl, whisk all the above together. Set aside until ready to use.
for the Shrooms:
4 pounds mushrooms, either portabello caps, oyster mushrooms, or large creminis
Slice the oyster mushrooms in half, leave other 'shrooms intact (having removed the portabello stems, that is). Throw them in the bowl with your marinade (or move everything to a large, flat plate or bowl) and using your hands, toss with the marinade until there's sauce in every crack and crevice. Let sit for about an hour.
prepare and serve:
30 corn tortillas (enough to feed 5 hungry people)
bunch cilantro, minced
1 medium onion, diced
Cojita or queso Fresco, crumbled
Diced fresh jalapenos
Preheat your oven to 350f. Wrap tortillas, no more than 6 to a pile (they'll stick if you wrap any more than that together) in foil and place in your warm oven for 10-15 minutes (whilst your mushrooms and searing).
Get your grill HOT, as hot as it can get (with a gas grill, somewhere around 450-500f will be sufficient). Throw your 'shrooms on there and grill about 4 minutes each side, until you see some char. Remove to a large plate, slice in strips, and chow down with tortillas (double them up, or you'll end up with fajitas in your lap), toppings, yum yum YUM.
Leftovers, if there are any, make amazing veggie Migas.