Mushrooms are hard to clean, so we like to use a dedicated soft-bristled toothbrush to make the job easier. It provides a comfortable handle and the small head slips easily under the gills of the mushroom to capture every stray bit of dirt. A quick run through the dishwasher cleans the brush for the next time you need it.
Big, meaty portobello caps can be studded with garlic and herbs, just like a piece of meat. Use the tip of a paring knife to make 10 or 12 narrow slits in the top of each cap. Then insert a sliver of garlic into each slit along with a sage leaf, some fresh rosemary, or a tiny sprig of thyme. The garlic and herbs will stay inside the cap as it cooks.
Slicing white mushrooms thinly takes patience, so we like to use an egg cutter to get the job done quickly. Trim the stems and then slice the mushrooms on the egg cutter. The resulting pieces will be even and thin.
Dried porcinis, as well as many other varieties, must be reconstituted before you can cook with them. To do so, soak the mushrooms in hot tap water (about 1 cup per ounce of dried mushrooms) in a small bowl until softened, about 20 minutes. To make sure no dirt or sand ends up in your food, use a fork to lift the rehydrated mushrooms from the liquid without stirring up any sediment on the bottom of the bowl. But don’t discard the flavorful soaking liquid; it’s great in soups, sauces, and rice dishes. To remove the grit, just pour the liquid through a paper towel-lined sieve placed over a measuring cup.
Like these? See more quick tips at Cook's Illustrated.