I used to indulge this way often. Go out to dinner, order an appetizer, stay thin and happy. Who could feel deprived with seafood, wine and garlic melded in front of them?
When I left the corporate world for small business, I decided that I didn’t want to make any food sacrifices. Give up a fancy phone? No problem. But keep your hands off my moules. And so I cook (even) more at home.
Of course, even with the extra free time and life balance (that I was supposed to have), there’s never enough time. Inspired by a sale on mussels at a trendy new market, I was delighted to discover how easy this dish is to make.
While dining out I have always had this dish prepared with white wine, but when I first came home–netted mussels in hand–I had only red available. I improvised and tried it with the red and have to admit that I liked that even better. Here is what I did (more than once):
- 2 lb mussels
- 1 T butter
- 1 shallot, chopped, or 2 T chopped leeks
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 c wine (red or white)
- 1 t dried herbs (tarragon, thyme or basil) – optional if using red wine
Optional: French bread, brushed with olive oil and grilled for dipping
1. Clean mussels, removing any exterior “beard”. Discard any mussels that are open (some may close after handling—these should be ok). Some sources recommend soaking for 20 minutes to encourage the mussels to expel grit, but since most mussels today are farm-raised this is generally unnecessary.
2. Melt butter in large sautee pan. Stir in shallots, garlic & herbs and cook until translucent.
3. Add wine and mussels (ideally in a single layer) and place lid on pan. Steam until mussels open.
4. Discard any mussels that don’t open. Serve mussels with liquid in a large bowl.
When I was a child, my father told a story about eating mussels while on business in rural France. The proprietress of the restaurant took him under her wing and carefully instructed him not to eat any mollusk that didn’t open. He ate most of the dish, then encountered one final stubborn, closed, bivalve. Having enjoyed the rest so immensely, he decided to try it anyway. He tugged and pried and finally it gave way–letting loose a foul, putrid, liquid. The proprietress “tsk”ed at him–and I learned at a young age to take mussel eating seriously.
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