There’s a real technique to cooking mushrooms. Most people make the five tragic mushroom errors before the shrooms even have a chance to get warm. Those five errors are:
1) Washing the mushrooms with water.
2) Slicing them crosswise.
3) Adding the mushrooms to the pan before the pan is even hot.
4) Not using enough fat.
5) Crowding the pan with too many mushrooms.
By increasing the water content of the mushrooms while simultaneously increasing the surface area for cooking by slicing them thinly, a brown sear becomes a virtual impossibility. And the sear, people, is what making the perfect sautéed mushroom is all about.
So never wash mushrooms. If you see visible dirt, brush it off with your finger or a dry paper towel or custom mushroom brush (soft bristle toothbrushes work fine, but I’m just not that anal).
When you cut them, quarter them, so that all the mushrooms will be in direct contact with the skillet.
Do not overload the pan! Use either a bigger frying pan or fewer mushrooms, but never cook mushrooms more than 1 layer deep. You’ll see the single layer technique in the video.
Use plenty of fat, preferably from leftover meat searing or plain ol’ butter, and fry these puppies up. If you don’t use enough fat, they will kind of dry cook, not get brown, but instead get dehydrated. Make sure there is so much fat that even the great fat-sponge, the mushroom, cannot soak it all up.
Salt them well, and serve right away. A perfectly-cooked mushroom does not need the help of garlic or onion, which can actually pollute and overpower the clean taste of a pure, plain, mushroom. Because the mushroom is the ultimate fat sponge, it is a fantastically delicious accompaniment to many savory meals. And the mushrooms don’t exactly have to be white truffles to be good. The plain, white button mushroom or crimini can be turned into a culinary delicacy when cooked just right. With this video, and the careful instruction on mushroom cookery given in 180 Kitchen, I hope you can get it down.
And for the Love of God – Don’t stir ’em or shake the pan too much! Let them get brown before you even think about touching them.