Three Ways to Cook Large Mushrooms so That They Do Not Overcook

Stuffed champignons are a classic holiday snack, but the more mushrooms you have, the more moisture you’ll need to have when cooking them. By stuffing a raw mushroom with stuffing, you are blocking the outflow of water, and you risk turning your mushroom into a mushy room (ha ha ha). Here are three ways to keep moisture from ruining your mushroom offerings.

Make slits in the mushrooms before frying to release the water.

According to the 2022 issue of Cook’s Illustrated’s “Best Thanksgiving Recipes of All Time”, mushrooms have a built-in moisture barrier:

The outer coating of any mushroom is coated with a layer of hydrophobic (water-repellent) proteins that prevent water from getting in and keep moisture from escaping.

To combat this, they suggest making cuts on the top (not the gill side) of the portobello lids in a criss-cross pattern, which allows water to drain and evaporate during roasting. You can also do this with large non-portobello mushrooms, especially if you plan on keeping them whole, sautéing, or stuffing them.

Saute the mushrooms a little before stuffing them.

Giving the mushrooms a head start gives the water a chance to get out before it gets blocked by the fat stuffing. This is not a very important step when you are working with small mushrooms, but the big ones really win. Place the sliced, gillless mushrooms on the wire rack and bake, cut side up, in the oven at 375℉ for 10-15 minutes until they release enough liquid. Remove from oven, turn over and fill. (Be sure to pre-cook all ingredients that can also release water during frying, especially raw vegetables and meats.)

Do not use oil if pan frying or sautéing

The oil blocks the water, and if you cover the mushrooms with oil before sautéing or sautéing, the water won’t escape, resulting in those characteristic mushy rooms. Fortunately, mushrooms do not need to be greased at all before cooking – they will brown much better even without it. We’ve discussed this before , but just to remind ( hat!) :

Direct dry contact with the pan allows this moisture to evaporate quickly, browning the mushrooms and producing a rich aromatic flavor at the bottom of the pan. Once the mushrooms are browned and soft to your liking, you can deglaze all those little browned bits with a little wine and then add your choice of fat to make the dish more intense.

This works especially well with big, beefy guys (like portobellos). Set the heat to just below medium, then clean, dry, slice, and salt the mushrooms (salting also helps draw moisture out by osmosis). Arrange them in one even layer in the skillet and let them fry, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom. Flip and repeat. Deglaze the pan with some wine, add a dollop of butter and let it turn into a delicious pan sauce.

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