Real food sauteed msuhrooms photo

Healthy, buttery, sauteed mushrooms

Real food sauteed msuhrooms photo
Rich, buttery mushrooms with almost no fat

Who doesn’t love rich, buttery mushrooms? But mushroom are world-champion butter-sponges. In my endless quest to have the foods I love without the heavy fat burden, I tackled the mushroom many years ago. It took some experimentation, but this method delivers all the taste, no extra work, and ends with about ½ teaspoon of butter per serving. The trick? Add the butter when it counts.

You can’t brown a dry mushroom very well, even in a non-stick pan. Without added fat, they tend to shrivel and dry in the pan. But if you add fat, the mushrooms just suck it up and ask for more … or they shrivel and dry in the pan, anyway. But they can be tricked with water.

Slice your mushrooms. They do shrink as they cook, so make your slices about twice as thick as you want the final result. Put them in a non-stick, or well-seasoned cast iron pan, and add a bit of water. I usually start with a couple of tablespoons per serving — just enough to create steam.

Real food mushrooms cooking with water photo
Using a lid that sits inside the pan helps keep the steam close to the mushrooms.

Cover your pan. Use medium to high heat to keep the water at a light boil, with plenty of steam. Stir occasionally, and cook until the mushrooms are almost tender, 3-5 minutes. Add more water, a little at a time, if necessary to keep plenty of steam. Remove the cover, but keep sauteing the mushrooms until the water evaporates.

Once the water is gone, brown the mushrooms, stirring constantly. The now-cooked mushrooms will brown quite nicely. I usually push them to the side of the pan at this point, or even remove them to a plate while I finish the rest of the meal. (If you remove the mushrooms, return them to the pan and reheat before the next step.)

Here’s the real trick. Add about ½ teaspoon of butter per serving to the hot, cooked mushrooms immediately before you remove them from the pan. Stir quickly and serve.

The water saute process is shown below. Click any photo for a larger view.

Real food mushrooms sauteing in water photo
Mushrooms sauteing in a small amount of water just after the cover is removed

Real food mushrooms sauteing in water photo
Some of the water has evaporated

Real food mushrooms sauteing in water photo
The water has evaporated and the mushrooms browned., but no butter added

I’m not a food scientist, or a cooking pro of any variety, but here’s what I think explains the wonderful flavor of mushrooms cooked this way: the water/steam softens and cooks the mushrooms, and evaporating the water allows any flavor that escaped to migrate back into the mushrooms.  Adding the butter at the last minute keeps the butter flavor on top — it’s the first thing our taste buds pick up, so little is needed.

Give this method a try. I actually prefer mushrooms prepared this way to regular sauteed mushrooms — not because they are healthy enough to be eaten often, but because they taste better. Really! Try it and let me know what you think.

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4 thoughts on “Healthy, buttery, sauteed mushrooms

  1. If I ever cook again, Wendy, you can be sure I’ll try this. Sounds great. Every mushroom cooking I’ve ever done has been very high calorie!

    • If you keep hanging out here, you’ll be cooking. I love to cook, and eat, but I don’t love hanging out in the kitchen for hours. If something catches your taste buds, and it looks like it will only take a few minutes, I bet you won’t be able to resist giving it a try. BTW: did you notice that it was your small plate in the cucumber side dish article? Still love your stuff.

  2. Now why didn’t i think of that!!?! Thanx for sharing … i use a similar technique with eggplant which sucks up olive oil like mad… I actually cube, rinse, salt and then microwave my eggplant before sauteing them and only add the oil at the last minute…

    • Thanks for sharing this method for eggplant, Anne. I have kept applying water to eggplant as it cooked, much like the mushrooms, but the microwave is another idea I’ll add to my bag of tricks.

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