Plant-Powered Partnership

About this Food Love Story: we wanted to show something that’s familiar, easy to make, naturally healthier, with a wicked comfort style we can do at home. Something I can stuff my face with and feel good about and being the huge fan of mushrooms that we are … well, what did you think we’d lead with?

The recent release of the partnership between Tesco and a self-described ‘plant pushing’ chef hit mainstream media a couple weeks ago.

We’re happy as all heck to confirm this is real news! Wicked exciting stuff to us veg-head, plant-pushing, planet-loving types! Getting a bit deeper into the whole thing, I’ve accepted a new role as Executive Chef-Director of Plant Based Innovation for Tesco, based in the UK. And wouldn’t ya know it, they’re the world’s third largest food retailer. Yep, that means I’m moving to the UK and starting a new chapter. I’m grateful to have the support of such awesome friends, family and the wicked healthy community. Brother Chad is holding down the US side of things. We have lots more exciting new projects being announced soon and our goal is that they will benefit everyone!  We’re getting soooo close to releasing the Wicked Healthy Cookbook that’ll be out in no time. We’re just putting the finishing touches on it.

I’m honored to partner with Tesco and wicked excited to share our plant-based philosophy!

As part of Tesco’s Food Love Story Campaign, it’s been announced—the partnership between Tesco and myself. Tesco is calling me the “Gourmet Veg Chef” … that’s cool I’m good with that. I can cook and, as a good friend of mine, Hiram, has coined, I do have a thing for plants.

Now, having partnered with Tesco. some wicked healthy and exciting things are to come!  Plant forward inspiration that is good for you and good for the planet.

The recipe for the BBQ Mushroom Buns has three kinds of mushrooms, very easily prepared three ways in the same pan for texture, mouth feel and taste enhancement. Featuring the wicked healthy patented and pressing technique that helps derive much more of a meaty mouth feel, paired with some seasonings and delicious sauce then crammed into a soft bun, ’cause you know how we love to eat with our hands. Serve with some oven baked sweet potato fries and a salad and you just banged out more than your five a day of recommended veg you can feel good about.

A few little tidbits of help on the recipe and prepping the mise en place beforehand for those that want to make this an easy go when it’s time to eat.

Whenever we’re adding thin sliced onions to a sandwich we tend to always like to slice them wicked thin on a mandolin (when available), and we recommend using the hand guard and being super careful. These can be done way ahead of time and stored in the cooler.

Once sliced, rinse well with running cold water and drip dry. This helps wash away some the strong onion juice, crispy-a-fies (adds to the crunchy aspect we’re looking for) and adds a bit of fluff, all the while promoting freshness.

Prep the three mushrooms beforehand. Once they’re all prepared and cooked, I like to line them up on a small baking sheet so they’re ready to pop in the oven to warm when it’s time to eat if you want it hot. Makes for an easy time of entertaining.

For the Portobello: trim the stem and clean out the gills with a small spoon. This will help them sit flat and cook evenly on the pan. Scooping out the gills helps with removing any bitterness and we don’t want those black flakey gills in the dish.

Slice half of the Chestnut mushrooms and all of the Shiitakes wicked thin and keep separate. For the other half of the chestnut mushrooms, trim the stems off so they sit flat with the Portobellos as seen below.

Pressing the mushrooms: Like in the directions on the Tesco site but here using two cast iron pans. Heat the bottom pan on medium heat, add the oil, then add the whole Portobellos and Chestnut mushrooms. Give it a minute, then add the second pan to rest on top and weigh the mushrooms down, flip and do it again. Before flipping again sprinkle of bit of the seasoning mix then add the top pan and press down harder if you like. Repeat this process until flattened. You can allow the weight of the pan to do it but we like to incorporate a little kitchen cardio into the mix – it’s how we get our exercise.

Once the shrooms are pretty flat and cooked, remove from pan, slice the Portobellos in half, add to a bowl and cover with BBQ sauce to coat each one. Add these to the baking sheet.

Next, in the same pan, on medium heat, add a little more oil and spread out the sliced mushrooms. Leave them for a couple minutes to really char them good and caramelize. Moisture will start to form and the shroomz will start to shrink so it might take a few minutes. I like to bring them to the edge of burning before stirring at first, that’s where the best flavor is.

Season them with a little of the seasonings and stir to get the other side. We’re searing not really sautéing here. We don’t want to move rapidly but slowly and with purpose to really brown as much of the sliced mushrooms as possible to get as much color without burning. Once they’re where you like them, remove from heat and assemble onto the baking sheet with the rest.

I don’t add sauce to these. The whole mushrooms that are pressed and sauced add the meatiness and the sliced caramelized ones are the mushrooms. Consider this a little mushroom on mushroom action for a full-blown textural mouth feel packed with flavor! From here make the sandwiches any way you like. With the lettuce, red jalapeno for color and the fresh herbs, top it off with sauce and there you have it.

All photos by our friend the talented, Ha Lam

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