Sauteed Mushrooms with Thyme

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In this recipe, mushrooms aren’t stuck lending their flavor to lackluster main ingredients. Here they are the main event.

There are some superfoods I’m not that into, but I’ll purposefully eat because they are supposedly so good (here’s looking at you, kale). Then there are the superfoods that are so delicious, so un-chore-like to eat, that you would scarf them down even if they were bad for you (hello, blueberries). I put mushrooms in that category.

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But mushrooms don’t get the glory that I think their taste and superfood status deserve. That’s why I love this recipe. It puts the mushrooms front and center. They aren’t taken advantage of to add flavor to other lackluster ingredients. They are the ingredient.

The recipe is also very easy. Part of the instructions are to not touch it while it’s caramelizing. Any recipe that tells me to sit there and do nothing is a keeper in my book.

I made this recipe for lunch today. Yep, just mushrooms. It was divine. It was surprisingly filling, too, especially served with a slice of crusty bread to sop up the pan juices. And after trying it, you’ll wonder why you don’t eat mushrooms on their own more often.

Sauteed Mushrooms with Herbs (from Martha Stewart Living October 2011)

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Since I was just making this for me, I used fewer mushrooms and approximated lesser amounts for the other ingredients. The amounts below are from MSL and are meant for 4 people as a side dish (and would probably serve 2 people for lunch).

ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or enough to lightly cover the entire bottom of the pan)
  • 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned and stems pulled off
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons thyme leaves (less is also fine – I didn’t have that much)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine

Special equipment: If you’ve got a splatter screen, now’s the time to pull it out. If you don’t have one, wear an apron.

Instructions

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, cap sides down. And then, don’t touch! Stirring them releases their liquid and makes them steam, which means watery mushrooms. You don’t want this. You want them to just brown. Don’t worry, they won’t burn.

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2. If you have a splatter screen, put it over the pan. Let the mushrooms cook for about 4-5 minutes until they start to caramelize. Are you touching them? Don’t do that.

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3. Once they are brown and glistening, turn the heat off. Here I am departing from the original recipe – they have you just turn the heat down, but if you do this and start tossing the mushrooms around, they will sizzle and hiss like crazy and splatter ever-y-where. So just turn it off for a minute.

4. With the heat off, toss the mushrooms and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. Once the pan has accepted this and settled down, turn the heat back on to medium and keep cooking until mushrooms are well browned, about 3-4 minutes. You want it to be sizzling, but if things start getting overly dramatic in the splatter department, just turn the heat down and let it settle a minute. You shouldn’t be wiping olive oil off your refrigerator when this is over.

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5. Add the garlic, butter, and thyme. Toss and cook until garlic is golden but not burned, about 2 minutes. At this point, you will almost be passing out from how good this smells.

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6. Turn off the heat again, then add the white wine. Turn the heat back on and cook, stirring, until the wine reduces. How long you do this is up to you — the mushrooms will be pretty much done after a couple of minutes, so if you want more sauce, stop here. If you want a thicker, reduced sauce, keep going until the wine evaporates.

7. Serve warm with some crusty bread. This is also delicious over polenta.

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