While this technique works with all kinds of fungus, I find it best with the more common kinds you can find in supermarkets: white buttons, cremini, portobello, fresh shiitake. Chanterelles, lobster and other more exotic mushrooms work well this way, but their subtle flavors are sometimes even better served with other methods -- cooked more lightly, for instance, in an egregious quantity of butter. But whatever – they're too expensive for anyone to have enough to mound up a pan with anyway.
- Mushrooms, halved if small, quartered if larger, in sixths if really big
- Oil of your choice
- Garlic, minced fine, optional, to taste
- Shallots, diced, optional, to taste
- Onions, sliced, optional, to taste, cooked separately
- Fresh herbs, chopped, to taste (I like parsley, thyme, chives or tarragon)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Put a wide, heavy pan on high heat and add enough oil to rather generously coat the bottom of the pan. You don't need the mushrooms to go for a swim, but they will need to get a little lubed up. (You'll get rid of much of it later. Relax.)
- When the oil is shimmering, showing a wavy pattern when you swirl it, carefully load the pan with as many mushrooms as will fit in one layer. (Don't splash yourself!) They will sizzle immediately. Don't touch them! After a minute or two, carefully lift a few from different areas of the pan. If they're showing a nice golden brown color, success! You're well on your way to fungal nirvana.
- Now you can look like a line cook hero and toss your pan to flip the mushrooms and get a sear on the other side. (Or just flip with a spatula, or just stir with a spoon. The Top Chef cameras aren't on, it's OK.)
- After another minute or two, taste a mushroom. If it's got a nice, bouncy, juicy texture and deep flavor, add your aromatics or herbs. Let them cook together for another minute or so, just to take the rawness off and to let the flavors mingle, season with salt and pepper, and drain on paper towels if they're oily. Congratulations! You've got killer sautéed mushrooms!