Friday, February 24, 2012

Mussels are hard

The hard part of mussels is the cooking. My wife and I both love mussels, and are fortunate to live in a town that features many excellent places to eat them. But until last year, we had never tried to make them ourselves. Then I happened on a recipe for grilled mussels, which sounded really interesting, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

The results were not good. The recipe was fine, but at least half of the mussels were undercooked, most of them severely. The problem is, mussels are pretty finicky. It takes about 5 minutes to grill them (8 to steam), but that's an average. You mostly have to watch them, and wait for them to open. And by open, I mean open wide. So the second time I grilled mussels, I was a lot more patient, and they turned out a lot better.

Recently, we've been craving seafood again, and scallops are just a bit more expensive than we really want. So my wife picked up some mussels, I sent her a recipe from Serious Eats, and she cooked them up for me (I have a really great wife!) She mostly followed the recipe, just adding rosemary, shallots, and leeks. The broth was really flavorful, and went great with the baguette she picked up, but the mussels, as a rule, were very underdone. I don't think we ate more than half of them. So, as a gentle reminder, when you cook mussels, cook them well! They should be open wide. Recipe after the jump.

Creamy Mussels with Smoky Bacon

yield: serves 4, active time 30 minutes, total time 30 minutes

6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
4 1/2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
12 ounces hard cider, preferably a drier style
4 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 bunch tarragon, stems discarded, leaves chopped
Large handful of fresh parsley, stems discarded, leaves chopped
Salt and pepper

1. Pour one tablespoon of the olive oil into a large pot set over medium-high heat. Add the chopped bacon, and cook until the pieces are crispy, three to four minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to some paper towels. Try to leave as much of the fat behind in the pot as possible.

2. Add the garlic to the oil, and cook for a few seconds, and then add the mussels, cider, and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Use a wooden spoon to stir everything around, and then cover the pot and turn the heat to high. Steam the mussels until almost all of the mussels have opened, shaking the pot from time to time, three to four minutes. Using the slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a very large bowl, leaving the liquid behind. Discard any of the mussels that haven't opened.

3. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and stir in the crème fraîche. Cook at a boil for two minutes, and then add almost all of the bacon and herbs, leaving a little of each for a garnish. Stir well, and then season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Divide the mussels between four large bowls, ladle on some of the sauce, and garnish with the remaining bacon and herbs. Serve the mussels with good crusty bread.

No comments:

Post a Comment