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How to Prepare and Cook Mushrooms

Updated on December 16, 2017

Selecting Mushrooms

I usually use plain white button mushrooms in recipes because they're always available, inexpensive, and their intensity is not so much that it will turn off people who aren't big fans of mushroooms. Select mushrooms that are nice and white, not turning brown or slimy. The gills should not be exposed.


If you watch cooking shows on TV or read celebrity cookbooks, you probably think the best way to clean mushrooms is with a brush. You've probably heard or read over and over that you should never wash mushrooms because you don't want them to absorb water.. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mushrooms are grown in manure and that's something I don't want in my cooking. Furthermore, mushrooms are mostly water, and will not absorb much liquid. When you cook mushrooms, all of the water is released and generally evaporates in the process.

Thoroughly wash the mushrooms as follows.

Fill a large pot with cold water. Add the mushrooms and swish them around for about 30 seconds. Drain, then repeat the process two more times. Remove the mushrooms one at a time and dry each one with a paper towel. The mushrooms are now ready to use in your recipe. You can also wrap the mushrooms in a paper towel and store them in the refrigerator for a day or two.

Slicing Mushrooms

If you intend to make stuffed mushrooms, pull out the stems with a slight twisting motion. When I use mushrooms in recipes, I usually cut off about a half inch from the bottom of the stems. If the stems seem tough, I cut them off completely.

It's up to you to decide how thin to slice them. When making risotto, I slice them very thinly. When making stew or sauteed mushrooms, I quarter the smallest ones, and slice the large ones so that all of the wedges are roughly the same size. In any case, a good sharp knife will make the job easier.

Sauteed Mushrooms with Red Wine and Shallots

Sauteed mushrooms are great with steak, on hamburgers, or as a side dish.

  • 10 oz white mushrooms, prepared as above, quartered
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 oz red wine
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 oz olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

In a non-stick saute pan, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the garlic and shallots and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper. Saute until most of the liquid is released, then evaporated. Add the wine and cook until the mushrooms are nicely browned and the wine is reduced to a syrup.


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