Owning an air fryer has increased my vegetable consumption by at least 60%. Instead of waiting for an entire conventional oven to preheat, or minding a hot pan, I simply toss whatever plant part I desire in some fat, season it, then toss it in my air fryer, which has usually been heated somewhere in between 180°C and 200°C. It’s easy, but air frying mushrooms is even easier, because they don’t need any oil to get browned and crispy. In fact, they brown better without it.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve written about cooking mushrooms (in a pan) sans fat before, but the same principles still apply. The culprit behind soggy, pale mushrooms that will not brown is almost always moisture:
For one thing, butter is at least 15% water by volume, and adding it to the pan increases the overall moisture content in that pan, which is what we’re trying to avoid. But even pure fats can create a sort of oil slick on top of the moisture that comes out of the mushrooms, delaying its evaporation.
This isn’t to say that mushrooms that are tossed with oil will never brown, but they will brown faster without it, and it lets you skip a step (and cut down on fat, if you are so inclined).
All you have to do is rinse, dry, and chop (or tear) your mushrooms, then place them in a single layer in an air fryer set to 200°C. Cook for 10 minutes, shaking the basket once or twice, and you’ll be rewarded with mushrooms with golden browned, crispy edges and stems, and tender, juicy caps. You can also cook them for a little more than 10 minutes, if you want a mushroom with darker, deeper, more concentrated flavour. Just keep an eye out; too long and your shrooms can become shrunken and leathery.
Once your mushrooms are browned and crispy, you can add a little fat, for flavour. This could be a spritz of your favourite fancy finishing oil, or you can do what I did and finish them with a healthy dousing of salted browned butter. Season however you desire, and you’re done. I personally did not season further after the salted browned butter. Salted butter is a seasoning in its own right.
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