It’s Time to Mussel Up!
When you fancy a truly no-fuss meal consider quick-cooking mussels. They are easy to cook and lots of fun to eat. I love them simply steamed or tossed with pasta or rice and sauced up with tomatoes, green peppers and Feta cheese.
I often serve the mussels with crusty baguette bread and Taramosalata, a creamy, richly-flavored fish roe spread and well-known Greek Lent specialty, that is also enjoyed throughout the year all over Greece . . . normally as part of a meze table or as a starter!
Mussels are also great in seafood stews and soups and when entertaining I often make Paella, a classic Spanish dish I learnt to make while attending the University of Barcelona, that is always a great crowd pleaser. One thing is certain, once you've purchased, cleaned and de-bearded the mussels you’ll have lots of options to make delicious, satisfying and elegant dishes.
To make your life even easier, try using top quality frozen mussels. They are real time savers!
The recipe below is my Mom's Moules à la Marinière Recipe! Mom loved mussels and when we were living in Brussels in the late 1960’s many of our family outings included visits to local restaurants at Brussel’s Grande Place where we enjoyed huge and delicious portions of aromatic Moules à la marinière served with Pomme Frites (Mussels with Fries), both well-known Belgian specialties.
1kg (2.2lbs) mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
1 tblsp butter + 2 tblsp olive oil
1 – 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 ½ cups dry white wine 50ml cream (optional)
Handful of flat-leaf parsley
For Serving: Crusty bread
Wash the mussels under plenty of cold, running water. Pull out the tough, fibrous beards protruding from between the tightly closed shells and then knock off any barnacles with a large knife. Give the mussels another quick rinse to remove any little pieces of shell.
Before cooking, always look through the mussels. If you find any cracked or chipped mussels, discard them. If any are open, give them a quick tap on the counter and watch if they close again. If they do notclose, discard them.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt butter with olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots and garlic are soft and wilted.
Add the mussels and wine, turn up the heat, then cover and steam them open in their own juices for 3-4 minutes. Give the pan a good shake every now and then. Add the cream (optional) and chopped parsley and remove from the heat. Spoon into large warmed bowls and serve with lots of crusty bread to soak up the liquid and if you like, French fries (optional).
Double-check before serving. After steaming, if any of the steamed mussels have not opened, discard them.
Yield: 2 – 4 servings
A few twists on recipe for cooking your mussels:
Instead of just shallots and garlic, I like mixing finely sliced leek, scallions and a sweet yellow onion and just a wee bit of garlic. This I sauté, as above in a mixture of olive oil and butter . . . and then I add the white wine, a bit of chicken broth and fresh lemon juice as well as some grated lemon zest (to taste) to the pot or Dutch oven. Last I add the mussels and cook as above.
If you like it spicy, add some finely slice de-seeded chili peppers sautéed (in a little olive oil) and instead of the parsley, top with chopped coriander!
Instead of serving Fries with the mussels as they do in Belgium, for a more filling meal and when entertaining, serving the mussels with a simple risotto with/without wild mushrooms or green peas and fresh asparagus . . . is a great idea!
©KaritasM – February 2023