Sautéed mushrooms are one of my favorite sides, especially when I’m cooking steak. Being an old hand in the restaurant business, I’ve cooked more than my share of mushrooms. I love many different types of mushrooms, and use many in different dishes. Someone asked me to write this recipe for a good steak side item, but writing it reminds me of all the delicious types of mushrooms and how to cook them, so I think I’ll write several more mushroom recipes that I use down and post soon. Lion’s Mane, Porcini, Enoki, and King Trumpets are some of my favorite to cook with, generally. Another of my favorites that are generally available are shiitake mushrooms, and I’m linking a previous recipe here. My brother even harvested a lot of Chanterelle mushrooms last year, and they were amazing. But this recipe is about a classic, Steakhouse Style Mushrooms, and I’m featuring cremini mushrooms.
Cremini or White Mushrooms for Steakhouse Style?
White button mushrooms account for about 90% of the mushroom sales in the US. Odds are you’ve eaten them many times. Most restaurants use these mushrooms because they are cheaper and more consistently sized than other comparable shrooms. But, they really don’t have much intrinsic flavor, they are just “kind of there.” They are the youngest version of Agricus Bosporus, or the Portobello mushroom. The next stage in aging leads to Cremini mushrooms, a much more flavorful variety for our steakhouse style mushrooms. These are marketed in the US as “baby bella mushrooms,” and they are just that, smaller, immature portobello mushrooms. Like full-grown portobellos, they have much more flavor than white button mushrooms, if not as richly developed as the larger ones. They are very versatile as well. In Guatemala recently, I met the owner of a mushroom farm, and tasted his mushroom ceviche using cremini mushrooms. It was amazing, and I’m still trying to replicate that recipe!
Preparing the mushrooms
Most restaurants and steakhouses sauté the entire mushroom cap after trimming the stalk. As I said earlier, white buttons are sized more consistently for restaurants, so they’re easier to cook in a batch that way (less prep, nice looking end result.) Cremini mushrooms are sold in 8 oz or 12 oz containers, and are not very consistent in size. So, for this recipe I recommend removing the stems (just cut off at the cap,) then halving the small ones, quartering the medium caps, and cutting into 1/6 portions the larger ones.
Wash Wash Wash
Before you break out the paring knife, wash, wash, wash. Mushrooms are inherently dirty, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. They are grown in a soil medium (read “compost”) in low light conditions. They are usually “direct picked,” which means pickers put them directly in the shipping containers to minimize handling. Though they cut them from the root, they still have plenty of compost contained within each package. So, put your mushrooms in a colander, and wash thoroughly, before trimming.
High Heat, Fresh Herbs, and Woo Woo
My usual theory with mushrooms involves high heat in the beginning and fresh herbs at the end. In the middle is where the main flavoring comes into play. I won’t go through the whole recipe here as it’s easy enough to follow. My main goal is to cook and remove as much moisture from the mushrooms as possible, then to replace that with flavors I want to stand out. For this recipe, I’m using a bit of red wine, beef stock (feel free to sub in veggie stock,) and my new Woo Woo Sauce and some seasoning. Of the three liquids, I’ve cooked really good mushrooms many times without wine of beef stock, just Worcestershire and seasonings.
Restaurant recipes vs Home Recipes
Remember, restaurants are cooking mushrooms to hold for an entire shift, so they need a thin holding medium with liquid in it or the mushrooms will dry out. You are cooking for a meal at a specified time- you don’t need to hold them for hours, or prep them for the day ahead. That being said, when I’m cooking dinner with mushrooms, this is one of the first items I’ll cook, leave a bit of liquid with them, then reheat and finish while steaks are resting.
As always, I hope you enjoy. Now, get out there and grill!Print