Many of us have enjoyed delicious, golden brown sautéed mushrooms in restaurants. They show up alongside steaks, in salads, or on top of polenta. But when we sauté mushrooms at home, we end up with a soggy mess. What’s wrong?
Moisture is the problem; high heat is the solution
All foods contain water that’s released when the food is heated. The goal in sautéing (to develop a savory crust on the food) is only achieved if the water evaporates quickly, the instant it’s released. Mushrooms, especially cultivated white mushrooms, are hard to sauté because they release so much water. But there are tricks to sautéing all mushrooms so they’re deliciously browned and full of flavor. Most important is high heat, which encourages quick evaporation. If the heat isn’t high enough, mushrooms boil and steam in their own released moisture rather than brown.
Mushrooms crowded in a pan will release a lot of water. Keep the heat on high as the mushrooms cook to evaporate the liquid quickly
Keep cooking until all the water is gone. At this point, you can deglaze the pan with a little liquid, such as sherry, stock, or cream. Use a spoon to scrape up the flavorful browned juices on the bottom of the pan.