Monday, November 22, 2010

My first attempt with mussels

Until this past year, I haven't been a shellfish person (shrimp and scallops were okay, but anything clammy or mussely were no goes). And, although I enjoy eating dishes with shellfish in them now, my love affair has more to do with the sauce on the dish rather than the shellfish itself.

But, over the past while, whenever we've been going out, Phil has ordered mussels - usually ones in the most gloriously flavourful broth.

My love of the broth is what's turned me on to eating mussels myself. Truthfully, you could probably just give me a hunk of bread and a bowl of the sweet liquid (and give all the actual mussels to my husband) and I'd be happy.

We were resolved to try cooking mussels at home, and so selected the easiest looking recipe in the Beerbistro cookbook.

I hit up the St. Lawrence Market for mussels. You know how much they cost me? 6$ for 2lbs (which amounted to two very generous servings). We'd probably pay 2.5 times that amount per person if we were eating out.

Mussels. They're my new favourite cheap protein.

They also make for a delicious and quick dinner.

Today's recipe!

How to Store Mussels

Interesting fact: mussels can stay alive out of water for several days. They abhor plastic wrap and stagnant water. In fact, they'd rather be stored dry, sitting in a strainer over a bowl in the fridge, covered with a damp tea towel and ice.

True story.

When I first read that, I was convinced that I'd read something wrong, but a trip to google taught me otherwise.

In a strainer. Covered with damp tea towel and ice. No water. Got it?

Preparing Mussels

I wish I'd taken a picture of this process! Our mussels were already gorgeous and cleaned, but if yours aren't, you need to do a few things.

Debeard the mussels. That means, pull the vegetal fibre that is dangling off on side towards the hinge of the mussel. It should come right off.

Remove any barnacles with a sharp pairing knife.

Discard any cracked mussels or ones that don't close all the way when sharply tapped with a knife. No one wants food poisoning, right?

Okay. You're ready to go.

Mussels with Beer and Cream


2 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 lbs mussels, cleaned
½ lemon
6 tbsp beer (preferably a Belgian White)
¼ cup whipping cream
3 tbsp parsley


In a large, shallow skillet, melt butter (do this over as high a heat as the butter can handle). Throw in the garlic and sauté for about a minute until soft and gloriously fragrant.

Add the cleaned mussels to the pan and toss around to coat with all the delicious garlic butter.

Squeeze the lemon half over the mussels (be careful to do this onto your palm, so you can catch any seeds) and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the beer and cream. Shake the pan again. Cover and cook for 3 minutes or until the mussels start to open.

Remove the lid, add the parsley and let boil for another minute, in order to reduce the sauce.
This pan is probably too small for the purposes, but you make do with what you've got!

Discard any shells that have not fully opened.

Divide mussels between bowls, and pour the broth over top. Be careful when you get to the last ¼ cup or so. I used a spoon at this point so as to avoid the little bit of grit the mussels had expelled when they opened.

Serve with lots of crusty bread.

Insert one happy husband here:


dmcL said...

I love how delicious and unbelievably cheap mussels are. And easy! The hardest part is the cleaning, and that's not exactly onerous.

We always get some really good chip wagon fries to go with them, too. A little fresh, homemade mayo for dipping à la Belgian fries and I'm in cheap and easy dinner heaven!

Alyson said...

Ah, man, I would love a local chip wagon! And the mayo... YUM. Most delicious heart attack on a plate ever!

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