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Jan 27, 2013 08:27 AM

Mushrooms and Muddy Brown Cream Sauces

I love mushrooms with Alfredo sauce but it always turns my sauce a nasty brownish color. Is there anyway to prevent this? I usually cook them separately but even so when mixed in, the lovely cream sauce turns muddy.

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    1. Hunt for immature ones that the gills have not opened.

      Poaching has also helped flush out some of the spores.

      1. Yes. Use small button mushrooms which haven't exposed their gills. Wash off any dirt under warm running water using a soft brush. Don't think the mushroom will absorb any water doing it this way. The washing happens so fast the mushroom has no chance to take in any water. Pat dry between paper towels.
        Now cover the bottom of a sauté pan with the mushrooms. Don't overcrowd it. You may have to repeat this part. DO NOT put ANYTHING other than the mushrooms in the pan. No butter. No oil. NOTHING. (This is the point where some people don't follow the instructions and end up with a muddy mushy mess.) Heat up the pan to a low to medium heat. Watch the mushrooms. You will see that whatever moisture is in the mushrooms will be gathering in the pan. Carefully with a paper towel blot up this water. In time virtually all the water will be gone leaving dry mushrooms. Remove the mushrooms to a paper towel. Repeat if necessary. When you have all the mushrooms dried out this way wipe out the pan and add a bit of clarified butter and a little pinch of nutmeg. Bring the butter up to medium and add a few mushrooms at a time. Don't overcrowd the pan. Now you have mushrooms that are dying to soak up the butter and nutmeg. Watch the butter disappear and the mushrooms turn a nice golden brown. Repeat. Cooking them without allowing them to release their moisture always results in a dirty looking mushy mess. You'll never achieve a nice white sauce unless as the other poster suggested you remove the gills on large mature mushrooms. That's half the product thrown away in a large portobello.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Puffin3

          The gills explanation makes sense but a few times SO brought home pre-sliced mushrooms with the same result. Any thoughts? I plan to try your method either way.

          1. re: fldhkybnva

            Presliced doesn't mean the brown gills have been removed.
            They WILL darken your sauce but according to some (e.g. Jacques Pepin) the older button mushrooms, those with open gills and a few dark bruises on the caps, have more flavor than the firm young bimbo buttons. So there can be a trade-off; your choice of whether appearance or taste is more important. JP says to buy the shrooms that are marked down for quick sale.

          2. re: Puffin3

            When I make chicken a la king I just slice small immature button mushrooms and add them to the cream sauce without washing or precooking. They cook in the sauce and do not darken it.