The Mystic of Mushrooms

Baby Bella and Button Mushrooms Somehow there is an urban legend about mushrooms and the do’s and don’ts about this fungi.  I have had the pleasure of learning a new cooking technique from Janet Zimmerman herself about this mystery...

Baby Bella and Button Mushrooms
Baby Bella and Button Mushrooms

Somehow there is an urban legend about mushrooms and the do’s and don’ts about this fungi.  I have had the pleasure of learning a new cooking technique from Janet Zimmerman herself about this mystery ingredient and have come to enjoy the simplicity of her preparation.  Here is a link to Janet’s article on a New Way to Cook Mushrooms from her Cooking for Two site. Thanks Janet for setting the record straight and teaching me a new trick.

I must admit, when Janet asked the kitchen team to wash the mushrooms under water using a colander, she started the blasphemy.  But, as she explained her methodology and promised us a taste of the Golden Mushrooms at the end of this experiment, I was all in!  Seeing and tasting is believing to a true foodie!

Yes, you wash and clean the mushrooms under water.  Remove the stems (saving these in your freezer bag to make your next pot of stock), then quarter the buttons (I have used white button and baby bella mushrooms for this recipe) and add to a sauté or fry pan.  I like to use a 10 – 12’ non-stick pan for this recipe.  When I am preparing these mushrooms, I always prep two cartons or a pound of mushrooms.

Quartered mushrooms
Quartered mushrooms

To the quartered mushrooms, I add about 3 cups of my homemade vegetable stock, or a boxed stock, plus a tablespoon of butter. The science Janet explains in her link above defies what we think we know about mushrooms, but I can promise you the stock will be absorbed and the mushrooms will be a golden color at the end thanks to the addition of the tablespoon of butter.  You then proceed to cook these fungi at a high temperature on the stove top. You will be keeping this pan at a rolling boil.  Stirring occasionally.  You will eventually hear the mushrooms tell you that they are almost ready with the sizzle sounds and then the smell of the caramelizing mushrooms.  You will stir them well at the end to aid in the final browning process.   At this point, you will turn the pan to a medium heat and add in wine or a sherry to finish along with your herbs of choice depending on how you will use these mushrooms.  My favorite finishers are a few tablespoons of medium dry Sherry and a few tablespoons of fresh thyme or rosemary.  If you are using a box or can of stock, be mindful of any added salt.  I would pepper these golden orbs at the end.

From here, you can do almost anything.   My favorite ideas include:  topping a steak, adding these mushrooms to a bowl of farrow, creating room on your vegetable plate for these golden gems, eating them right out of the pan, or inviting these mushrooms hot out of the pan to top a spinach salad that is dressed with balsamic vinegar.  This is reminiscent of a hot bacon dressing over the spinach salad from my youth, but a much healthier idea!  The hot mushrooms begin to wilt the spinach salad.  I would omit the bacon and substitute the hot mushrooms along with the hard-boiled egg and thin red onion slices that we remember from this classic salad.

Spinach Salad
Spinach Salad

Experiment with a carton or two of mushrooms, I promise you will be pleased with the results.