seafood

steamed mussels

hot and steamy bowl of mussels

hot and steamy bowl of mussels

Did I mention that we've had about 30" of snow this past week and the temps have been somewhat unspeakably below zero?

how to cook mussels

how to cook mussels

For me, there is just something so hopeful about eating shellfish when there is snow on the ground.  This particular recipe is custom made for a cold night.  It takes NO TIME at all and will leave everyone at the table ridiculously happy and satisfied.

I personally have never met a mussel I didn't like.  It all started with my Dad's penchant for ordering a "side" of mussels marinara with our typical Friday night pizza.  Sweet and briny mussels suspended in a spicy, pungent tomato sauce with tons of thick garlic slices. Then there was France and their dreamy mussels mariniere.  A no-vampires-will-be-troubling-you garlicky broth with white wine and mustard, served in a big bowl with a side of crusty bread and frites.  And what about the yummy Thai preparation with coconut milk and lemongrass?  Perfection.  Mussels are just that way.  EASY to prepare, super versatile and luscious.  To me, one of the ultimate comfort foods.

Typically, I will serve mussels in the classic heaping bowl style with side of warm, crusty bread for mopping, fries and a simple salad.  There will be a generous amount of broth and you could also top the whole thing over some linguine. Or for some extra drama, squid ink pasta.  Oh, and maybe a handful or so of halved grape tomatoes for a pop of color and a sweet fresh bite.

hot and steamy bowl of mussels

hot and steamy bowl of mussels

hot and steamy bowl of mussels

3 lbs of mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded (they will more than likely be sold ready to go)

about 1/2 cup of garlic confit (oil included) see earlier posting on how to prepare*

6 T butter

1/3 c minced shallots

1/4 c dijon mustard

4-5 pinches of saffron threads

1 T minced thyme

2 c dry white wine

1/2 c or more heavy cream

zest of 1 clementine

juice of 1 clementine

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 c roughly chopped parsley to finish

zesting shellfish or mussels

zesting shellfish or mussels

In a large pot, melt the butter and add the garlic (I like to keep the cloves whole so they are easier for people to pick out if they don't want to eat the entire thing), shallots and thyme.  Season with a little salt and pepper and cook over low heat for a few minutes.

garlic butter sauce for shallots

garlic butter sauce for shallots

mustard wine sauce seafood

mustard wine sauce seafood

Add the mustard, wine, saffron, citrus juice and zest.  Check your seasonings after a few minutes and add the heavy cream.  Taste the broth for balance.  You'll want the bite of the acid, the roundness of the butter and cream and the slight nuttiness of the garlic.  

Adjust for whatever you feel you need more or less of.  Cook for a few minutes more and, at this point, you can either keep going and finish the dish or store the broth in the fridge to be heated and used later.  Easy, right?

cooking healthy seafood at home

cooking healthy seafood at home

Rinse your bright and shiny mussels in cold water.  Bring the broth to boil in a pot large enough to hold all of the mussels and shake around.  Toss in the mussels, move some broth over and around, cover and steam for a few minutes until the mussels have opened.  Discard any that haven't opened, add your freshly chopped parsley to the pot, give it a stir and pour into a large bowl.  Make sure to have an empty bowl on the table for the shells.  This is a fun, sexy, interactive dinner.  Invite some friends.

hot and steamy bowl of mussels

hot and steamy bowl of mussels

Serves about 4.

*I strongly recommend going with the confit.  The garlic confit will give the dish a mellow, nutty undertone that raw garlic just can't do.