Don’t Crowd the Mushrooms!

If you have seen Julie and Julia or ever attempted coq au vin, you know there is an art to browning mushrooms.  But once mastered, the pay-off is huge.  Juicy, browned mushrooms can add so much flavor to a stew, cassoulet or just as a side by itself with a steak or hamburger.  They are simple to prepare, you just need to follow these few tips below.  Be prepared to seriously impress your dinner guests with a sophisticated, fancy-looking, uber-French dish.

Sauteed mushrooms

  • any type of preferred mushrooms (these are whole white mushrooms)
  • 1-2 tbsp butter
  • heavy skillet

The first thing to do is get the butter very hot over medium heat.  You know when butter is hot enough when it has stopped sizzling and bubbling up and is frothy, but resting.  Then, add the mushrooms.  Make sure they are washed, but dried very well.  The second key thing is to NOT CROWD THEM.  Give them space, even if this means having to cook several batches to complete your dish. 

Mushrooms will quickly absorb the fat, but as they cook, they will release the butter or oil back out and you’ll see the shiny fat on the surface.  So resist the urge to add more butter or oil; there is plenty there and the mushrooms will release it back as they continue to cook. 

If you crowd them, all you do is steam them and not fry or brown them; they release their juices and don’t brown up.  Allowing them space in the pan reduces this steam effect.  Also resist the urge to stir them a bunch or turn them several times.  Just turn them every so often to get them equally brown on all sides, but let them do their thing in the pan.

They really only need about 5-7 minutes total.  Remove from heat as soon as they are ready and season with just a bit of S&P.

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