Ok I will NEVER order mussels at a restaurant again. Not because every restaurant makes bad mussels but because it’s insanely easy to make mindblowing mussels.
Last week I had a huge hankering for mussels. I don’t know why since i normally find mussels fishy tasting. And I have a high tolerance for fishy fish. But there you have it. Anyway, I had a craving for mussels and saw the Barefoot Contessa episode (when Barefoot Contessa wasn’t a pile of dreck!) where she makes mussels. It appears that mussels are damn easy to make. Simply make sure that the open ones close before cooking (if they are open and you try and close them and they don’t close they are bad) and throw out the ones that remain closed after cooking.
But the real key is the mussel flavorings. There are many many ways to go with this but the key is to saute aromatics and make and aromatic liquid for the mussels to cook in. There are two variations that I’ve seen: 1) European with white wine, shallots, fennel, sausage, and garlic or 2) Asian with rice wine, sake, ponzu, ginger, chilies and garlic. Whatever you have, make sure you have loaves of good bread to sop up the liquid. Because really, mussels end up being a broth delivery service.
That night, I wanted to make sure I had a meal out of the mussels because a lot of mussels doesn’t equal a full belly, so I added 1/2 a pound of shrimp to the broth to cook as well. It was mindblowing. It was so incredible I would make it four days in a row. Here’s what I did:
For the broth:
3 large shallots, coarsely chopped
3 fat cloves of garlic, sliced
2 andouille sausages, sliced
1 pinch of saffron
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 cups of white wine
For the seafood:
3 pounds of mussels
1/2 pound of jumbo 21-30 count shrimp, peeled and deveined
Saute the garlic, shallots and sausage in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the seasonings and saute another minute or so. Add the white wine and bring to a bubble. Dump the mussels in and let them cook covered for 10 minutes. Add the shrimp in a toss in the broth and let them cook another 2-3 minutes until the shrimp is cooked. Serve with bread and a salad.
Pictures to come!