If you can avoid washing the mushrooms then do. Instead, use a damp paper towel to wipe any dirt off the mushrooms. However, if they need washing then don't be afraid to do that either. The only thing you want to avoid is soaking the mushrooms for a long period of time.When I wash these mixed wild mushrooms, I place them in a large bowl and fill it with water, quickly give them a swish around to loosen any dirt and carefully rub any bits clean and then drain them in a colander.
You can then pat them dry or even air-dry them in the sun (if you have time).
Step 2: Dry Fry The Mushrooms
Chop the mushrooms if you need to. I didn't with these wild mushrooms. However, you could tear them into more even sizes for better caramelization.
Add the mushrooms to a large pan with no oil over medium heat for around 8 minutes, flipping once after 5 minutes. DON'T stir the mushrooms during the first 5 minutes- even if you're tempted- otherwise they won't brown nicely.As the mushrooms cook, they'll release lots of water, which will evaporate before they can caramelize.Chef's Note: For an alternative method, you can use a little oil (not butter) at the beginning and this will slightly increase the caramelization before you add the butter. However, I love the results without adding the extra calories- so it's up to you what you prefer.
Step 3: Add the Butter and Herbs
Once the mushrooms have softened and begun to brown, add the butter, garlic, and thyme (or herbs of choice) to the pan and saute over medium-high heat only stirring very occasionally, to allow the mushrooms to further brown and become coated in the garlic butter mixture.Chef's note: If you want to de-glaze the pan to pick up all the wonderful flavor from the brown bits on the bottom of the pan then add 1-2tbsp of liquid (wine, sherry, broth, or even water) in the last 2 minutes, and stir the mushrooms continually until all liquid is evaporated.
Add any spices in the last 30 seconds of cooking, including any salt.
How To Make Ahead & Store:Make ahead: This isn't something I do often since the process is quick anyway. However, if you want to make these garlic butter mushrooms ahead, I suggest cooking them for just a minute or two less than needed. Allow to cool and place in a bowl, covered. Add the mushrooms back to the pan with a little butter/oil before serving for just a minute or two to complete the process and keep them crisp.Store: These garlic butter sautéed mushrooms are best fresh from the pan. However, any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for between 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Reheat in a large pan (skillet) over medium heat.Reheat: It's best to pan fry mushrooms to reheat them- in a large skillet again with a little extra butter. Microwaving the sauteed mushrooms would likely lose the crisp element and I have a feeling oven heating them would dry them out somewhat - though I haven't tried.
Can You Freeze Sautéed Mushrooms?
Yes, technically you can. But you'll lose the fresh, caramelized, crisp exterior which makes these so special. However, if you want to give it a go, then lay the sauteed mushrooms out in a single row on a large tray, freeze till solid, and then transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. That way you can grab as many as you need at one time, without them all sticking/clumping together.If you're going to do this, I suggest using the frozen sauteed mushrooms in recipes like soups, stews, and sauces - where the lack of crisp exterior won't matter as much.Other Recipe Notes
Sauteed wild mushrooms don't release as much water as white mushrooms - at least in the case of chantarelles, morels, shiitakes, etc. This means they are usually easier to sauté.
If you're using shiitake remember to remove their stems, which are quite leathery. Do so by trimming them where they attach to the cap. They can be saved to make vegetable stock or broths.
Use a large, heavy-based pan: I've found these yield the best results as they retain heat well and spread it more evenly.
Adding a little wine to de-glaze the pan can easily add tons of flavor. If you don't have wine then you can use a little sherry or stock. All you need is just a tablespoon or two - once added, stir the mushrooms continually until the liquid has evaporated. This will help to capture all the extra flavor from the bottom of the pan.
Don't slice your mushrooms too thin: You might be tempted to cut them as thin as possible, thinking that thinner slices = crispiest results. Unfortunately, that's not the case. instead, they'll shrivel up into barely 'nothing' so keep them semi chunky at-least to hold their shape.