If using the common domestic mushrooms–either the white button varieties or the brown cremini mushrooms–look for tightly closed caps and no soft spots. If using wild or more exotic mushrooms such as, chanterelle, morel, oyster, or shiitake, look for plump (as opposed to shriveled) tops and fresh-looking edges. Brown spots or mold will develop on wild mushrooms that are too old; avoid those. Store mushrooms loosely wrapped in paper towels, loosely stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Plan to use mushrooms within two days of purchase. Basic Preparation. Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel. Mushrooms act like sponges absorbing water, so washing mushrooms under running water will result in a diluted, watery taste. Using a sharp paring knife, trim the ends of the stem and any ragged edges of the cap. Dice, slice, or leave mushrooms whole, according to the recipe directions.
Serves 4 or 5
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons fresh parsley minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound large, fresh domestic or wild mushrooms cleaned, trimmed, and sliced
1 medium-size (about 8 ounces) yellow onion peeled and cut into thin wedges
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons pale dry sherry
In a small bowl, combine sage, thyme, and parsley and set aside. Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add olive oil and butter. When hot, add mushrooms and onions. Sauté, stirring frequently, until tender and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add fresh herbs, then add salt, pepper, and sherry; stir to combine. Serve immediately in a warmed bowl or on warmed plates.
This recipe is best if cooked right before serving. However, the ingredients can be prepared in advance. Mushrooms can be prepared up to 2 hours ahead, sprinkled with a little lemon juice, and covered with a damp paper towel. Sautéed mushrooms are a wonderful accompaniment to roasted poultry and meats. This recipe is at its best when fresh herbs are used. If fresh sage and thyme are unavailable, use 1 teaspoon each dried sage and thyme mixed with the sherry to bring out more of the herbs’ flavors. Substitute red onion or sweet onions (Vidalia, or Walla Walla) when in season. Toss this mixture with cooked fettuccine (3/4 to 1 pound), adding a little of the pasta cooking water and 1/2 cup of cream (optional), for a meatless entree or side dish. Use any leftovers as the filling in an omelet.