~ 'Shrooms and The Hot Dog Theory ~
My husband earned the nickname HotDog because of his theory that "Everyone secretly enjoys being called a hot dog." He bases this on the reactions he has received when, in response to a job well-done, he says, "Wow! Great job! You're a hot dog." He usually accompanies the compliment with a friendly little point to accentuate the word "You're". He says it always brings a smile to the recipient's face. While it has never really been determined whether the smiles stem from pleasure or sheer amusement, one thing's for sure: it does always get a smile.
It's hard to say whether HotDog was truly craving sauteed mushrooms or if he scanned the refrigerator to see how he could capitalize on my new-found bloggedness. "Smoochie, will you make me some mushrooms?" he asked today in a sweet, pleading tone. "Sure...," I say as I grab my camera and head to the kitchen.
Of all the lines in the movie Julie and Julia, I was most fascinated with, "Don't crowd the mushrooms." Mom used to saute mushrooms in butter quite a bit when I was younger, and I can remember they were always very good. What I couldn't remember was if those mushrooms were crowded. Julie's quote made me wonder just how delicious a mushroom could be. Could they possibly be better than Mom's? I looked up Julia Child's recipe for sauteed mushrooms and went to town, tweaking a bit as I went.
Kimmers' Version of Julia's Sauteed Mushrooms
1/2 pound white button mushrooms
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon canola oil
pinch of kosher salt
The trick to tasty mushrooms is they have to be dry. Mushrooms are crazy-porous and will hold a lot of water if you clean them via shower or bath. This will result in steamed mushrooms instead of sauteed, and you will lose a hefty bit of that earthy browned goodness that makes a sauteed mushroom so delectable. Since I'm usually an impatient chef, I do not like to wash them and wait for them dry overnight. What I prefer to do is wipe them down with a damp paper towel. This can be quite the labor of love when HotDog buys pre-sliced mushrooms, but I still wipe them all down nonetheless. "Sweets," I ask, "the next time you buy mushrooms, will you buy the whole ones? I think it will be easier to wipe down a whole mushroom then slice it, as opposed to wiping down these slices." "Sure...," he says. That HotDog is quite a guy!
Start by heating your butter and oil in a heavy saute pan on high heat. I prefer to use a stainless pan to get the optimum browning of these luscious fungi; non-stick simply doesn't give quite the same result. The butter will foam, then subside.
When the butter stops foaming, add the mushrooms and stir. You can see here that they have plenty of room to breathe. I once tried in my zealous hunger to make a full pound, and it truly does make it harder for them to brown. So many lessons that Julia taught us! Anyway, your mushrooms will immediately absorb all the fat, and your pan will be somewhat dry like mine is here. Don't be alarmed and add more butter or oil. Dry as they are, just keep gently and periodically stirring them around for about five minutes and have faith.
Sure enough, they will do two cool things. The first is that they begin to release the fats back into the pan as they saute. You'll actually see the mushrooms "sweating it out". The second cool thing, and I admit part of the reason I had to try Julia's recipe, is that they will squeak as you stir them - fascinating! I like to tell myself it's because I got them so clean with the loving wipe-down they received minutes earlier.
Continue to stir them for an additional two or three minutes until they get nicely browned. Julia tells us to saute until they are light brown, but HotDog and I find them to be extra tasty when they get a bit darker. Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt when they are sufficiently brown and stir one last time.
Our favorite way to inhale these mushrooms is as a side dish. They really need nothing else as they are spectacular on their own; however, I can imagine how they would be an amazing complement to any beef or chicken dish you can strum up. They just never made it that far in our house.