Who doesn’t love the smoky flavor of barbecue? In fact, the flavor that hardwood imparts to food is utterly irresistible… and that’s exactly what we’re after in this recipe! Applewood is the wood of choice here, because its smokiness is fairly mild (compared to the smokiness of other hardwoods like mesquite and hickory) and won’t overwhelm the flavor of the mushrooms. I also chose chips, instead of chunks of wood, because the mushrooms cook fairly quickly, so you don’t need the wood to smoke for very long.
These sandwiches are easy to put together, but the results are astounding! Aside from the addictive smokiness, the flavors of the grilled mushrooms, the tangy Emmental, the juicy tomato and the crunchy arugula are just perfect together. And let’s not forget the homemade aioli, which adds its unique flavor to our sandwich, too (a big departure from jarred mayo!).
So here’s to applewood and all the deliciousness it offers… Happy grilling!
Food & wine pairing: Naousa, Xinomavro with smoked mushroom sandwiches
A red wine is right at home with these smoky sandwiches, and if you’ve never had it before, I highly recommend you pour a Xinomavro from Naousa in Northern Greece. Full-bodied, bold and smoky, these distinct wines are perfect for anything grilled! Alternatively, pour a Zinfandel or a bolder, fuller California Pinot Noir.
Applewood-smoked mushroom sandwiches with Emmental
makes 4 sandwiches
active time: 45 min
- 2 cups applewood chips (alder and cherrywood chips are good substitutes – see Viviane’s tip)
- 1 medium Vidalia or sweet onion – peeled and cut in 1/2″ pieces
- 1 lb (455 g) Portobello or crimini mushrooms – brushed clean, stemmed and cut in 3/4″ pieces
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
- 4 regular or whole-wheat Kaiser or ciabatta rolls
- 4 oz (115 g) Emmental cheese (Emmentaler or Swiss cheese) – thinly sliced
- 1 large beefsteak tomato – cut crosswise in 4, 3/8″ slices
- 1/3 cup homemade aioli (garlic mayonnaise – see Viviane’s tip)
- 1 handful baby arugula leaves (or baby spinach)
- Step 1: Place the applewood chips in a bowl and fill with water. Let stand for at least 30 minutes, then drain. Place the soaked chips in a small aluminum pan or in heavy-duty aluminum foil. (They shouldn’t be spread too thinly.) Make a few holes at the bottom of the pan – this will help with air circulation – and set aside.
- Step 2: Place the onion and mushrooms in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and cayenne and drizzle with the vinegar and oil. Toss well with your hands until the ingredients are well coated and set aside.
- Step 3: Heat a gas, electric or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. When the grill is ready, place the pan of soaked wood chips directly on the coals (if using a charcoal grill). If using a gas or electric grill, place the pan on the bottom rack, above the burners. Close the lid of the grill and let the wood chips cook until they start to smoke. (This could take as long as 10 minutes.) When the wood chips are smoking, place the mushroom mixture in a perforated stainless steel basket and place on the grill. Close the lid and grill until the mushrooms and onions are charred but still moist, tossing now and then to ensure even grilling. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Place the rolls cut-side-down on the grill. Close the lid and grill until grill marks appear. Remove from grill and top the bottom side of the rolls with the cheese slices. Return to grill and cook until the cheese starts to melt. (This will only take a few seconds.) Top each sandwich bottom with the mushroom mixture and a tomato slice. Spread a little aioli on the tomato and top with the baby arugula. Spread a little more aioli on the top side of the rolls and top each sandwich with them. Serve while still warm.
- If you decide not to make your own aioli, crush 1 garlic clove and stir it into 1/2 cup of jarred mayonnaise.