Every family has a few staples they include in just about every meal and for our family mushrooms are one of them. We never eat a pizza without mushrooms, it’s always in our pasta, and adding mushrooms on a burger can really make the difference. I’ve a sneaking suspicion we’re not the only family that shares an unwavering love of mushrooms and what they bring to a meal. They have to be prepared properly though. If they’re not they can ruin a meal rather than enhancing it. It may seem like a fairly simple item to add to your meals, but if you’re doing it right it takes a little extra preparation. Here are some things you can do to make sure your mushrooms are always properly prepared.
Start with the Right Kitchen Implements
If you’ve ever tried cutting anything with a dull knife there’s a good chance you came away from the experience feeling a little frustrated. When you’re chopping up onions you want them in nice even flat slices – especially if you’re using them as a pizza topping. Personally I like to use quality santoko knives when cutting any kind of vegetable so that I get nice evenly cut pieces. They do have a rather sharp edge though so you should always take great care when using one. Actually this applies to any sharp implement you use in the kitchen. It’s a place you should always be extra cautious about the safety of you and anyone else in the kitchen.
Don’t Wash Them
My mom always told me you have to wash vegetables before you prepare them, but she never really said anything about fungi. I always assumed that the same philosophy applied until she set the record straight for me a few years back. As I was getting ready to prepare mushrooms for the evening dinner she looked on in horror when I went to wash the mushrooms under the tap. It turns out that mushrooms are already full of water and they don’t need any extra. To clean mushrooms you’re best to simply wipe them with a cloth or trust that the cooking process will take care of any unwanted germs.
Turn Up the Heat
Some foods are best cooked on a slow simmer to bring out all of the flavor, but mushrooms are not one of them. Remember, we’ve already established that they’re full of water so if you try to cook them on a slow simmer you’ll be at it a long time as the moisture slowly works its way out of them. Mushrooms are better cooked on medium or even high heat. That’s one of the great benefits to being a mushroom lover – you don’t have to wait too long until they’re ready to be eaten. I always sneak a few samples from the pan as I cook.
Lots of Oil
It may seem counterintuitive to cook mushrooms on high heat even though they carry a lot of moisture in them. After all, the moisture will evaporate eventually and then you could end up with some unsavory burnt mushrooms right? Well that’s why adding some nice oils to the process is a good idea. As long as you keep a close eye on your mushrooms as they cook and add a little extra oil if they look like they’re starting to dry out and burn you’ll have no problems. Mushrooms absorb fat just as well as they do water so it really doesn’t take that much oil to prevent them from burning in the pan as you cook.
Some Elbow Room
Last, but not least avoid the temptations to pile a whole bunch of mushrooms in the pan at one time to reduce cooking times. If you pile too many in the pan at one time you’ll actually increase the cooking time because the moisture will have nowhere to grow. It’s a much better idea to give your mushrooms a little elbow room so that there’s room for the moisture to evaporate as you cook.