February 20, 2009

Mussels with Garlic Butter

To start out our Valentine's dinner, I decided to make mussels.  The last time I had them was almost a year ago at Hopleaf in Chicago, and Matt had never(!!) had them before.  I was pleasantly surprised by how inexpensive mussels were - about $6/lb.  I guess when I comes down to it there's not that much edible matter in them, but I still thought that was a pretty good deal.  

I looked up a bunch of different recipes, and I settled on a simple one with a lot of positive reviews.  You can find the recipe here.  Since there were only two of us, I ended up cutting most of it by a third.  All of the amounts below will be the amounts I used.

Begin by chopping 1/4 cup shallots, mincing 2 cloves of garlic, and chopping about a tablespoon of parsley.  

Squeeze about 3/4 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, and get about 1/4 teaspoon lemon peel.  My lemon peel was more like lemon mush.  Oh well.  

Rinse and scrub the mussels.  I bought 1 pound, and it was plenty for the two of us.  

Place the mussels in a heavy pot, cover them, and cook them on high for about 5 minutes until they open.  Give the pot an occasional shake during that time.  

Here's what they look like when they've opened up.  Lookin' good.  

The actual recipe tells you to drain the mussels and reserve the liquid before transferring them to a bowl, but I only ended up with about a tablespoon of liquid.  Did I miss something?  Was I supposed to put some liquid in with them during the initial five minutes?  I'm still not sure about that one.  Oh, and be sure to throw out any that don't open.  You don't want to mess around with any bad seeds.

Cover the bowl loosely with foil so the mussels stay warm while you prepare the sauce.  

Melt about 3-1/2 tablespoons of butter in your pot over medium-high heat.  

Add the shallots and garlic to the butter and cook for a few minutes until tender.  

I decided to add a little white wine at this point because I realized how little liquid I had, and I really wanted more.  I probably added between 1/2 cup and 1 cup.  

Add the lemon juice, lemon peel, and reserved liquid.  Bring to a boil.  I decided to thrown in the mussels for a minute or so to warm them back up and cook them with the sauce.  I also added the parsley, but you can also save it to sprinkle on at the end.  Should you decide to follow the actual recipe, just pour the sauce over the mussels once it comes to a boil instead of throwing the mussels into the pot.  

Serve with crusty bread to soak up the sauce.  

I'm still not sure how I feel about this recipe.  The mussels were pretty good and very meaty, but I've definitely had better.  I was kind of hoping for a greater amount of liquid, so I might add more wine next time.  Making the sauce first and then cooking the mussels in it might help them soak up more flavor, too.  Maybe my lackluster review is due to the fact that I had the flu at the time, and shellfish is probably not the best cure.  I think I'll do a little more research before I make another attempt.  They make for pretty pictures, though!

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Blogger petitpoule said...

Hey! A friend of mine showed me your blog and I just read this post...first, love your stuff. Second, I have an idea about this.

A friend of mine and I recently made pasta con vongole, and I think mussels use a similar preparation. Basically (or so I read in "Heat") mollusks like mussels and clams are not so much used for their intrinsic flavor, as for the delicious liquid they release in the cooking process. So, as you noted, that would've helped with the liquid etc.

The clam preparation we used went like: Chop 4 cloves of garlic, melt 2 t. butter plus 2 t. olive oil in skillet, toss in garlic, add red pepper flakes, add [shellfish], plus 1 cup or a healthy pour of decent white wine, cover until they open.

Result: delicious, savory, tangy sauce produced by shellfish, plus spicy/garlicky goodness perfect for crusty bread.

Good luck! Hope this helped...

April 29, 2009  
Blogger Kirsten said...

Thanks for the tip! That sounds delicious. I'll have to try that out the next time I feel like making shellfish.

May 06, 2009  

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