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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Steak and Sauteed Mushrooms

I had some mushrooms in the fridge that needed to be used up and nothing sounded better than sauteed mushrooms falling all over a steak. When I first went out into the world, I did a fair amount of food service work. One of the places I waited tables was a steak house. They made great steaks, but I could never get past the "sauteed" mushrooms they served with their steaks. Boiled in margarine was more like it. Yuck. If you're going to make (a.k.a. eat) sauteed mushrooms, you might as well make 'em right. And there are a few important things to remember when making them:

1. They cook up pretty fast but hold decently, so I always make them first, before cooking my steak. Now, I like my steak mooing, so it doesn't take mine hardly take any time at all to cook. If you like to make sure your steaks are good and dead, you could probably prepare steak and mushrooms simultaneously.

2. Lube the pan. I like butter, but any kind of cooking oil would work too. I like the toasted flavor the butter gets as the mushrooms sear.

3. Make sure not to crowd the pan. You want to sear the mushrooms so that they get a nice color on them. If you overload the pan, they tend to steam. A good rule of thumb is to only have the mushrooms one layer thick in the pan.

4. Throw the heat to them! Turn on the fan and let it rip. I start on high and then move to medium high as needed to keep from burning them. But you want to hear sizzle the whole time.

5. Hold off on the garlic for a bit. A pinch of minced garlic really is essential, I think, to sauteed mushrooms, but burnt garlic's not so good. I wait to throw it in until the mushrooms are mostly cooked.

6. Booze is good. Using that high heat means that all the best flavors end up stuck to the pan. Use a little booze to deglaze the pan and add some great flavor. I like Madeira the best (same fortified wine as used in my French Onion Soup), but you can use just about anything: white wine, red wine, sherry, etc. If you're opposed to booze, you can use a little chicken broth.

7. Don't forget the salt and pepper!

If you really feel like making some special mushrooms, deglaze the pan as usual, but use a little bit more booze than you normally would. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add some light or heavy cream (depending on how special the occasion is) to make a sauce. To die for!

I made a little time-lapsed video of the mushrooms I made tonight. You can see the progression and what the mushrooms look like when I add the garlic and deglaze the pan.

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