Yes, yes, I know. Why is there a post on making the perfect mushroom? Same reason there’s a post on blanching vegetables. Ya can’t build a house without any bricks now can ya? Proper blanching and making the perfect mushroom are your bricks. Trust me, once you eat a mushroom prepared this way you’ll have a hard time going back to those watery, limp ones.
The first key is to have dry mushrooms, so don’t wash them right before you’re going to cook them. It’s much like trying to sear meat. That beautiful brown ‘crust’ forms when the surface coming into contact with the pan is dry (I could go into some long chemistry chitty chat about what’s happening there, but I suspect you don’t care as long as the mushroom turns out delicious). The second key to a perfect mushroom is to have a wide bottomed pan. The mushrooms don’t like to be crowded. You need a single layer with a little room in between each mushroom. Otherwise, the ‘shrooms end up steaming themselves and their neighbors. Next up? Enough heat to draw moisture out of the mushroom and evaporate it as you cook them. This translates to a medium heat on my stove top. Lastly, use good butter. Sure, you can use olive oil or any other heat tolerant oil, but you should at least try butter. I marvel at how a pat of butter can transform the lowly fungi every time I make these. Oh–and cook some extra ’cause you’re gonna eat ’em as you go!
- Mushrooms, any kind, sliced
- Oil of your preference…say yes to butter! Start out with a couple of teaspoons and replenish as necessary if you are cooking up multiple pan batches.
- Pan large enough to allow space between each mushroom in a single layer; Cook in multiple batches if necessary; Non-stick or a well-seasoned cast iron pan works best.
Place the pan over medium heat and add pat of butter. Bring butter up to temp (watch for the foam to subside) and add mushrooms in a single layer with a little bit of space in between each one. Now wait. Practice your patience. You should hear the mushrooms sizzling the whole time. After several minutes the mushrooms will begin to release a little moisture in the form of amber beads of ‘mushroom sweat’ on their topsides.
After each mushroom has offered up some little amber sweat beads, gently flip them. You’ll find the side that has been in contact with the pan is a beautiful caramel color. This translates to super flavor. You should be getting excited at this point and you might start trying to pick one out of the hot pan since they smell soooo goood.
Cook them for a few minutes more until they just start to ‘wilt’ and look a bit darker brown (see below). You want them to retain some firmness and not to get dried out. Err on the side of too short a cooking time versus too long. They will wilt a bit more once off of the heat. You’re looking at about a 8-10 minute total time. Salt if necessary.
Now run forth and make Perfect Mushrooms for everyone you know. Watch as their faces light up with amazement that they’ve never had a mushroom that tasted so good. And for reals…try them with light puffy scrambled eggs and a bit o’ shredded cheese…eggs never met a better partner!
**If you’re adding these to a dish it’s best to cook them separately and then add in at an appropriate time so they retain both flavor and texture (i.e. close to the end).**