Mushrooms are the chicken of the woods. You can barbecue ’em, boil ’em, bake ’em… and you’re pretty much guaranteed to end up with something scrumptious. That is, once you’ve mastered the basics. Many mushroom haters were traumatized early in life by bland, soggy shrooms.
It IS true that the growing medium from which they are grown contains manure. If you’ve ever driven through, or are lucky enough to live near the mushroom capital of the world – Kennett Square, Pennsylvania – you may have noticed the potent manure-y aroma of the mushroom farms.
But the growing medium is a sterilized compost, ensuring that your mushrooms will be safe to eat.
You can choose to wipe your mushrooms with a damp towel to remove any remaining gristle, give them a quick rinse, or give them a full wash, if that’s what you feel comfortable with.
Many people prefer not to wash mushrooms because they are very porous. They absorb sauces, seasonings, and flavors while cooking, but this also means it’s very easy for them to become waterlogged and soggy.
If you’re a mushroom washer, your shrooms will be just fine if you pat them dry before cooking. It’s really up to your personal choice and desired end result.
Mushrooms do not need a lot of babysitting. If you’re after a nicely browned dish with crispy edges, preheat your pan – cast iron is my favorite for browning – and saute your mushrooms in any fat. They make a perfect pair with olive oil.
Make sure not to overcrowd the pan, and chop them to about the same size so they’ll cook evenly.
Give them plenty of time to release their moisture. Once that evaporation takes place, that delicious browning will begin.
I like to salt and season just after the mushrooms have released moisture. That way, they’re ready to absorb those delicious flavors. Season generously, they absorb so much flavor and can take on so many different personalities depending on how you cook them.
An air fryer circulates hot air around your food, helping to create crisp edges that you’d get from deep frying. This works really well for mushrooms because of that high moisture content. The basket allows water to drip away, leaving you with a tender, perfectly cooked mushroom.
If you’re cooking whole mushrooms, you’ll want to set them crown up so the moisture can drip away, rather than collecting in the cap.
You can go without oil, but I like to lightly spray the basket with cooking spray to prevent sticking.