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Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Meal: Steamed Black Mussels

Posted By on July 23, 2012, 11:00 AM

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While visiting Belgium, I nearly OD'd on steamed mussels, having picked up quite an addiction to the tasty mollusks. Here is a terrific recipe for steamed mussels, --- one that is very typical of what you find in France and Belgium. It's quite simple and a quick dish to prepare. The entire cooking time is only about 10 minutes.

There's a saying that you should only eat mussels in months with an 'R' in them (January, February, March, etc.). However, most of the mussels sold in this country are farm-raised and fresh all year 'round.

Also, the single best tool I've ever found for eating steamed mussels is a small, empty mussel shell. This is a trick I learned in Brussels. You just use the empty shell like tweezers to "grab" the mussel and it doesn't shred the meat like a fork might.  

Plan on about 1 pound of mussels per person as a main dish, or 1/2 pound each as an appetizer.

Ingredients:

4 lbs. black mussels, cleaned, rinsed and beards removed. (Discard any that are open or have broken shells.)

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 minced garlic cloves

1 minced shallot

4-5 thyme sprigs

3-4 tarragon sprigs

1/2 cup chopped parsley

juice from 1 lemon

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 Tbs. Pastis or Pernod (optional)

1/2 tsp. red-pepper flakes

1 tomato, seeded and diced

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

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Method:

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large stockpot. Saute the thyme, tarragon, garlic, shallot briefly -- a minute or two -- to create a flavor base.

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Add the mussels to the pot, give them a quick toss and then add the chicken broth, lemon juice, wine, Pastis and red-pepper flakes.

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Cover the pot and steam the mussels for about 5-6 minutes, until all the mussels open. Shake the pot once or twice with the lid on while cooking to redistribute the mussels.

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Add the parsley, tomato and butter to the pot.

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Stir and replace the cover. Cook for another minute or two to soften the tomato.

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Serve with a green salad or with frites (pictured here), and thick slices of grilled bread to soak up the yummy broth.

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