Sunday, January 12, 2014

I Want Mussels!

If you just started singing, you're showing your age. If not, hey, how you doin'?

January's fish-a-geddon is in full swing, though I'm finding that I have replaced meat with cheese. Huh. I didn't expect that...did I? Aside from one brief bacon cheeseburger incident (Hey-a pipe burst and soaked, oh I don't know...EVERYTHING, so yeah, I had a little breakdown and it was kinda like if you're going to do this, then do this, and get bacon on the cheeseburger because pig on top of cow is like, amazing, amiright?).

Anyway, tonight, I had a 2 pound bag of mussels and was ready to throw down when I realized that I have never shared this recipe with you. Say what? If you are a fish-hater, no worries. Just start thinking about cheeseburgers and come back in a few days.

If, on the other hand, you are a serious fish lover like me, you can't get faster, cheaper, or tastier than a big 'ole bag o' mussels. My 2 pound bag, easily enough for 2 adults, maybe more if you have something else to serve with them, cost just $5. Add a few shallots, a little leftover white wine (yes, I actually do have leftover white wine, mostly because I'm a total lightweight), some fresh parsley, salt, and pepper and you've got a delicious, super Frenchy meal. Just look at those suckers...

If you're new to musseldom, here are a few tips to help you along and possibly even save your belly:

  • Mussels are alive when you buy them, and it's your job to keep them that way until it's time to throw them on the stove. Avoid the plastic bag at the grocery store, or if you must use it, be sure not to tie it closed, because your seafoody little friends will suffocate and die. And nothing stinks up the joint like a dead mussel.
  • Keep mussels in the coldest part of your fridge, usually the bottom shelf in the back. If you can keep them on ice, all the better
  • Don't buy mussels until you're ready to cook them. This isn't a "do the shopping on Sunday, have them on Wednesday" scenario. Buy fish, eat fish. Don't plan on storing it for more than a day. Your fridge and your belly will thank me.
  • If the mussel shells are open, give them a little tap on the counter, then set them aside for a minute. You'll want to be sure they're still alive before you cook them, and this is a good test. If you have a few with broken shells or that won't close, just toss them in the trash.
It sounds like a bigger deal than it is, I promise. Once you're hooked on these little morsels of briny goodness, you'll be whipping them up all the time. For real.

Mussels in White Wine

  • 2 pounds fresh mussels
  • 1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • kosher or sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
Place the mussels in a large bowl of cold water. Allow to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes in order to have the mussels purge any sand or grit. (This is the longest part of the whole recipe, and really, what are you doing? Sitting there, drinking wine while your mussels soak and purge. No biggie.)

Drain the mussels and repeat the process with a second bowl of very cold water.

Drain the mussels again.

In a large saute pan with a tight fitting lid, melt butter and cook shallots over medium-high heat until soft and translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the drained mussels to the pan, along with the wine and a generous dose of salt and pepper (don't go too crazy, you can always add more later).

Cover the pan and cook, covered, for 4-5 minutes, or just until the mussels have opened. Add parsley to the pan and stir well to distribute. Taste and re-season if necessary. Discard any unopened mussels. Serve with a hunk of crusty bread to soak up the juices and enjoy!

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