We talked to Chef Tom Colicchio about why there’s no better pan for your favorite fungus.
Whenever I think about cooking mushrooms, I am reminded of the Julia Child adage: “don’t crowd the mushrooms!” It’s true—they can either turn out a sad, soggy mess or a gloriously crisp and delicious bite.
Other than giving them appropriate space, mushrooms also need the right pan—and there is truly none better than our Stainless Clad Frying Pan. Here, we talk to Chef Tom Colicchio about how he likes to cook mushrooms and why Stainless Clad is the place to do it.
“Something that most cooks who are just starting out really mess up in a big way is cooking mushrooms,” says Chef Colicchio. Even though it might seem simple, there are some basic rules you should follow.
Before you even begin cooking, there are two things to keep in mind. The first is that this technique will work with any variety of mushroom you choose. A blend of different wild mushrooms may yield the best results in texture and flavor, but if all you have access to are button mushrooms, they will be delicious too. Whatever you choose, remember to slice or tear your mushrooms into relatively similar sized pieces to ensure that they cook evenly and get crispy all the way around.
The other thing to consider is the pan. You are going to want something that is wide and flat, with plenty of space to move the mushrooms around in. You will also want a long handle for shaking the pan later in the cooking process.
“If you’re using a cheap sauté pan, especially with aluminum, it’ll get bowed on the bottom,” says Chef Colicchio. You put your mushrooms in there, you start shaking the pan back and forth, they all collect to the center, the water pools up there and you end up with mush.”
Because of its superior heat conduction and distribution due to its 5-ply construction, Chef Colicchio recommends either our Stainless Clad Sauté Pan or Stainless Clad Frying Pan.
Again, mushrooms need space. “Mushrooms are probably about 85% water,” Chef Colicchio says. Because of this, you need a pan with a large surface area, which will help evaporate the water they release. A large skillet, like our 12” Frying Pan, is great for the job.
If you are working with a pound of mushrooms, Chef Colicchio recommends dividing them into batches to avoid overcrowding. This will give each mushroom its time to shine in the pan. Add a sprinkle of salt once all the mushrooms are in the pan, as this will help to draw out more of their natural moisture.
“The number one mistake that people make is they get their pan hot and they dump all these mushrooms in there,” says Chef Colicchio. “That’s going to completely lower the temperature and it’s going to cause that water to start pooling and they start steaming.” Make sure your Pan is preheated on medium-low before you add your oil, followed by your sliced mushrooms.
Once they are all in the pan, keep the heat relatively high to help pull out the water, but not to the point that you’re burning the mushrooms. Remember that some varieties will be far more delicate than others.
When cooking mushrooms, Chef Colicchio recommends listening to the sound they’re making to get an idea of how the cooking process is going. “I’m listening [for that sizzle]. I want to make sure that heat doesn’t drop off. If it does, then they’re going to start to steam,” he says.
Steam is not all bad, after all, you do want that water to release. However, if there is too much water, they will stop sizzling and start poaching themselves, which is not what you want. Instead, make sure you’re hearing that sizzle throughout the process for perfectly cooked mushrooms.
Once all of the mushrooms have started to brown, finish up with flavorings and fat. Chef Colicchio suggests garlic and rosemary, but feel free to get creative, too. Your choices may depend on the flavor profile of the mushrooms themselves. For example, with a nuttier variety like maitake, try shallot and tarragon for a deep, complex flavor.
After you have added these aromatics, you can introduce butter to the pan as well. Give them another quick toss in the pan to allow all that fat and flavor to be absorbed, then you’re ready to serve.
These mushrooms make a beautiful side dish on their own, but you can also toss them with pasta, use them as a bed for roast chicken, or our personal favorite, serve atop some fresh polenta. However you decide to serve them, you are sure to please both fungus fanatics and shroom skeptics alike when you use our Stainless Clad Frying Pan for your next mushroom sauté.
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