Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Classic French Mussels

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. 
Then, I used the mussels in a lightened version of Classic French Mussels I got from Food Network online. They came out wonderfully! Nancy oohed and we gobbled them up. While this recipe is lighter than traditional, it is still 524calories, with 24 grams of fat and no fiber. That's 12 points for my Weight Watchers friends. Definitely something you don't want to do very often, but a wonderful treat.

Let's eat!

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
Kosher salt

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.

Mussel on Foodista


Suzee said...

OMG - your wife and I must be kindred spirits! Unfortunately my husband is closer to your son, but less tolerent. He's asked me not to cook shell fish in the house, which was fine until we moved to NYC and there is no other option. Ah well - he will have to take me out more :) My personal favorite recipe (which I used to make for an annual lake party in NH). One measly bag of mussels would feed just me - so for the big party, I'd go and get a 10 lb bag. I'd use a bottle of pinot grigio, 2 softball sized onions, 4 tomatoes chopped, a few cloves of garlic minced, and some minced parsley. Only debeard the mussels right before you cook them. Sautee the onion and garlic in a touch of olive oil. Once softened add the wine and bring it to a simmer. Then add the mussels (this ensures the mussels are in 1 piece when cooked - if you put them in cold the meat can break as it sticks to different parts of the shell - still edible, but not as pretty.) Add the chopped tomato with the mussels. Cook on high - when they boil over 3x, then they are done. Don't over cook. Serve in a huge bowl family style, and have more bowls for the shells. Every year people would ask for the recipe :)

Katie said...

Add a tablespoon of flour in with your water while soaking the mussels... the flour causes the mussels to purge more of the stale water and sand allows them to suck up the new cold water which makes them sweeter :) sounds great!

Sandy said...

I have never made mussels before either. I am not much of a seafood fanatic as your wife but my parents are. This would be a nice surprise for them one day when they come over for dinner. I wouldn't even know where to begin to start cooking them but you gave a lot of great tips. Thanks!

Drick said...

looks like a wonderfully great way to cook mussels - great tip Katie...

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Mmmm, mussels....I love mussels. I suppose, like you, I don't eat them often because I live in land-locked Dallas. They're expensive. But this really makes me crave them. Yum.

Scott K said...

Thanks all!

Katie, I'll try that next time.

Tasty, I know what you mean. These were on sale for $3.99 a pound.

Evan Halperin said...

sounds great. making this ASAP!

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