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Monday, February 21, 2011

Born to be Wild (Mushrooms)

I really love a steak dinner, either at home or in a restaurant.  I am especially fond of the traditional side dishes, most particularly the sauteed wild mushrooms.  I also like the potatoes, but today I'm focusing on our fungi friend, the mushroom.

Although the mushrooms are one of my favorite dishes, I never really gave any thought to how to make them myself.  I figured that I could just throw a little butter in a saute pan and cooked the heck out of them until they wilted in submission.  How foolish I was.  There is a right way to saute mushrooms and it makes a real difference.

The key to really delicious sauteed mushrooms is that you can't crowd the pan.  The mushrooms should have plenty of room to brown.  When stirring them, you should do so gently and not haphazardly whip them around the pan with a wooden spoon. Finesse is the key to success.    Who knew?

The truth is that if you are patient, the mushrooms will be delicious, whether or not you add a lot of other flavorings to them.  I like to use a combination of different kinds of wild mushrooms because then you have a lot of different textures, which is nice.  (I love that wild mushrooms aren't wild at all.  They're cultivated but it does sound kind of sophisticated to refer to them as "wild".)   Add  some garlic and Italian parsley and you have a really nice side.  I also like Ina Garten's recipe for sauteed mushrooms.  It's got a little more going on but is  still very easy to make.

So, the next time you make a steak, treat yourself to some sauteed mushrooms.  Just remember not to crowd the pan!

Recipe:  Sauteed Wild Mushrooms
(Barefoot in Paris, 2004)


2 pounds mixed wild mushrooms, brushed clean, stems removed, and sliced thickly
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped shallots
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 cup chopped flat least parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan.  Add the shallots and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until the shallots are translucent.  Add the butter, mushrooms, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes, until they are tender and begin to release their juices, stirring often.  Stir in the garlic and cook for two more minutes.  Toss in the parsley, sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

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