Sauteing is a quick, versatile way to cook any kind of mushroom, including basic button, cremini, stemmed shiitake, portobello, and morel mushrooms -- or better yet, a mix of your favorites. While the cooking process only takes minutes, there are a few tips that assure the tastiest results. Savor them as a side dish, seasoned simply with sea salt and cracked black pepper or embellished with herbs and more. Start the process with the freshest mushrooms you can find and our pointers for cleaning and slicing them.
Prepackaged mushrooms should stay in the package, but loose mushrooms or those in an open package should be stored in a paper bag or in a damp cloth bag in the refrigerator. This allows them to breathe so they stay firm longer. Storing mushrooms in a plastic bag causes them to deteriorate quickly.
The best way to clean fresh mushrooms is to wipe them, one at a time, with a damp cloth or paper towel or to use a soft mushroom brush to remove any dirt. You can lightly rinse them, but dry them immediately and gently with paper towels. Don't soak fresh mushrooms in water or they will become soggy, making browning very difficult.
After cleaning, trim a thin slice from the end of each stem. On a cutting surface, use a sharp knife to cut the mushrooms into halves, quarters, or slices or to coarsely chop them.
In a large skillet heat oil or butter over medium-high heat. When the oil or melted butter is hot, add the mushrooms. You should hear a sizzle. If the fat isn't hot enough, the mushrooms will start to water out and steam instead of saute. Cook the mushrooms for 4 to 5 minutes or until tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon.
For four side-dish servings, start with about 8 ounces (3 cups) sliced mushrooms and 2 tablespoons oil or butter.
Tip: Make sure not to crowd the mushrooms in the pan. This causes the mushrooms to water out and steam instead of saute. A single layer with space between the mushrooms is ideal.
1. Bistro-style: Saute 3 cups mushrooms as directed above. Stir in 1/3 cup dry red wine or sherry, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce for chicken, and 2 teaspoons snipped fresh thyme. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Season with salt and ground black pepper.
2. Over steak or pork chops: Grill or broil your favorite cut of steak or pork chops. Serve sauteed mushrooms or Bistro-style mushrooms on top.
3. In an omelet: Fill an omelet with sauteed mushrooms and, if desired, goat cheese or shredded Swiss and quartered grape tomatoes. For extra flavor, sprinkle with snipped fresh thyme or basil.
4. Tossed with spaghetti: Add a few garlic slivers along with the mushrooms and saute as directed. Toss with cooked spaghetti, olive oil, and grated Parmesan cheese. Even better, toss with a bit of cooked and chopped bacon.
5. Sauteed with veggies: Add chopped onion and sweet pepper along with the mushrooms and saute as directed. This trio makes a tasty quesadilla filling when added with the cheese. Or toss it into scrambled eggs.