Nancy is a seafood fanatic! It's not something you would expect from a small town Minnesota girl. But, at one point in her life, Nancy was a waitress at a Minneapolis seafood restaurant. There, she learned the difference between good and not-so-good seafood and developed a taste for it. More than a taste, really.
So, there we are in our Central Illinois grocery store trying to find something worthy for our weekly seafood smile meal. (Nancy really does smile those nights, our son, not so much, so we call it smile meal.) And there sat several bags of mussels, a rarity in our area. Nancy was like the kid at the carnival games, tugging on daddy's shirt, begging him to win her the huge over-stuffed animal. "Make me that, pleeeeease," she said.
I'd never made mussels. I talked to the fish monger and she promised they were fresh and gave me a few suggestions. Into the cart went a bag of mussels.
So here is what I learned about preparing mussels:
- Scrub them with a stiff brush, discard any that are open and stay that way even when you close the shell. Discard any with broken shells.
- Soak them in cool clean water for at least an hour. Mussels are alive and breathing and have taken in sand over time. This allows them to expel the sand.
- Mussels have a small fibrous "beard" that should be removed. Pull it out toward the hinge of the shell to keep from injuring the mussel.
Classic French Mussels
Makes 2 servings
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 pounds mussels, cleaned
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted light butter, cut into pieces
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the mussels, wine, buttermilk, butter, and parsley and season well with the kosher salt. Give it a good stir, cover the pot, and cook until mussels open and are cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Divide the mussels and the juices between 2 bowls and serve with a crusty whole-grain bread to sop up that wonderful sauce.