In culinary school, we were taught to cook mushrooms over high heat with constant motion to achieve the best possible results. Pedal to the metal, full speed ahead, keep ‘em moving so they don’t burn.
Based on my frequent cooking of various wild and cultivated mushrooms, I have determined that I disagree with this advice. Instead, I think working in a cast iron pan over moderate heat and stirring the mushrooms occasionally/ intermittently gets better results. The mushrooms, staying in direct contact with the heated surface for a longer period, develop a beautiful golden brown hue and a flavor that can’t be matched. Coast along at a moderate pace: it’s both safer and more enjoyable, and permits you to pay attention to more of what’s going on around you because you don’t have to be obsessed with making sure dinner’s not about to crash.
You can’t tell by looking, but in the picture below, Angstrom is helping me to saute a mix of crimini, shiitake, and maitake mushrooms.
The first time I made sauteed mushrooms after Angstrom was eating a wide variety of solid food, I cringed as Aurora heaped them onto his plate, imagining how much value went into what I was sure would wind up on the floor. But, as he crammed them into his mouth with gusto, I gladly gave him seconds. If he’s willing and ready to appreciate good ingredients from his earliest dining experiences, I am going to encourage that at every step of the way.