How to Sauté Mushrooms

Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Daily Blog | Comments Off

My favorite meal of the day is breakfast.  There’s nothing like waking up on a Saturday morning and preparing a full cooked breakfast.  Some of my fondest memories are cooking a full-on breakfast with dad.  It’s still a ritual we look forward to when we get together.  And today I learned that I may have been doing something wrong!

This morning I took the ingredients out of the fridge, quickly washed the mushrooms (yes I know you shouldn’t do that), and heated a tablespoon of butter in the pan.  My wife suggested quite strongly that cooking the mushrooms in butter is unhealthy and that I should be using a little water to basically steam the mushrooms.  I was told that I wasn’t sautéing, that I was frying!  I’ve been cooking with butter since I can remember, and I couldn’t imagine how water could help create a delicious golden brown mushroom. I just pictured a soggy hot fungus as a result.  So I continued cooking my way, and mmmm…the result was perfect!

This whole incident left me asking a couple of questions.  1. Was I frying?  2. Can you cook mushrooms in water?  3. Should I be cooking mushrooms is butter?  Turning to the internet, I found some vindication.  The answers:  1. I wasn’t frying.  If you use a lot of oil, you are frying; a small amount is sautéing.  2. You shouldn’t cook mushrooms in water, since they “sweat” out a lot of water when they’re cooked.  3.  I should be using oil!

Oil!  Now that’s different.  I learned that milk solids burn – which explains the smoke that tends to accompany my cooked breakfasts.  Seems simple enough, but you still can’t beat the taste the butter imparts – unless you use bacon drippings.  Maybe Buzz will write about cooking with Bacon drippings one day, as he’s the pro when it comes to that.

Will I change the way I cook a full breakfast now?  Maybe.  If I need to go the direction of oil, then I’ll probably start using Emeril’s Butter Cooking Spray.

Here’s a quick little video and accompanying text on how to saute mushrooms.  Enjoy.

Mushrooms are about 85 percent water, which can be a challenge when you want to saute them. Properly sautéed mushrooms should have some good caramelization or browning, but moist in the deep center, says chef Bruce Mattel of The Culinary Institute of America. The first rule, he says, is to have a very very hot pan. The second rule is to not overcrowd the pan, or the moisture the mushrooms release will basically stew them.

He uses a few tablespoons of vegetable oil (olive oil will also work, but don’t use butter, since the milk solids will burn, he advises). He pours in the sliced mushrooms, then leaves them alone to cook for a few minutes. It’s important not to agitate them too much, or they won’t get a chance to caramelize. When you see some volume decrease, flip the pan (the meaning of sauté) or use a spatula or kitchen spoon to move the mushrooms around.

Once the mushrooms are mostly cooked, he turns down the heat and adds flavoring ingredients to finish the dish: 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper, and about 2 tablespoons of butter.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

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Image Credit: entertainingbyevie