Published January 1, 2006.
Bland supermarket button mushrooms shrink and shrivel when sautéed. We wanted more flavor and more mushrooms.
In most markets, the availability of freshly foraged mushrooms is spotty, their quality is questionable, or their price is exorbitant. But common white mushrooms lack flavor and shrivel when sautéed, making it difficult to serve a flavorful side dish sufficient to feed four people.
We wanted to develop a quick sauté method that delivered enough white button mushrooms to make a delicious, ample side dish.
We quickly learned that button mushrooms couldn't be treated like other mushrooms. They are absorbent and spongy, with a higher water content. After a few minutes of cooking, button mushrooms are swimming in a lake of exuded liquid. We tried turning up the heat and leaving breathing room in the skillet for each mushroom, but that gave us paltry serving sizes. Next, we overloaded the skillet and extended the cooking time. Sure enough, the mushrooms gave up enough liquid to shrink and eventually fit in a single layer. They browned nicely after we added a little oil or butter, and from there it was easy to enhance their flavor with garlic, herbs, wine, soy sauce, bread crumbs, and so on.list of recipes