Easy recipes for the newbie cook, the beginner in the kitchen, the nervous novice: we all had to start somewhere, and you can start right here.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Mushrooms with Garlic Butter: How to Cook Them

I am always banging on about how good food does not have to be expensive, nor does it have to be complicated. My mission is to encourage everyone to cook: to reassure them that however new, nervous or inexperienced in the kitchen, they too can make great food.

These mushrooms cover all those bases: they are inexpensive, taste wonderful, and really couldn’t be easier. They would obviously make a great side dish for a steak or a punchy piece of fish such as bass, but they could easily be the feature of the meal, and not just for vegetarians. Or, if you want something really simple, then just stuff them into a crusty baguette or roll, or serve them on some good, thick, buttery toast.

Don’t wash mushrooms: you want them to give off excess moisture during cooking, not let them soak up more. Get rid of the dirt with a dry pastry brush, or give them a wipe with a damp towel or piece of kitchen paper. Don’t peel them, either.

Once again, notice that I am not giving strict timings, or quantities of ingredients. Real cooking isn’t like that, unless you are cake baking or making a soufflĂ©, when you do have to be fairly precise. How big are your mushrooms? What about the garlic cloves – plump and juicy, or a bit on the small side? And, obviously, if I don’t know how big the mushrooms are, I can’t tell you how much butter, salt and pepper to use. And how hot is your grill, and how far away is it from your food?

However nervous a cook, however much a newbie, trust your own judgement here.

Mushrooms with Garlic Butter


As many of the big, flat mushrooms as you will eat – they don’t shrink much in this style of cooking, just soften and “deflate” a little, so it’s easy to judge.
A clove or two of garlic, as required, preferably minced fine with a knife rather than forced through a garlic press, which leaves too much of the “good stuff” behind.
A good knob of butter per mushroom
Plenty of salt and pepper

Optional – by all means add some finely chopped fresh herbs of your choice, but avoid the powdery dried ones from the back of your cupboard.


Remove and finely chop the stalk from each cleaned mushroom, and reserve. Put the mushrooms top-down under a medium-hot grill until they begin to soften and take on a little colour. You could do this part in a frying pan with a little oil and butter, top-side up, until you see a little steam and/or droplets of moisture form on the gills. Now fill the “cup” of each mushroom with the finely chopped stalks, some minced garlic, the herbs if using, and dot with a few dabs of butter and season liberally with salt and pepper.

Pop back under the grill until the garlicky butter has melted into the mushroom, and all has softened and taken on colour. Serve immediately, and don’t lose any of the delicious juices.

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