Mmm-mussels

With all this lovely (read: disgusting – winter can eff off now) cold weather we’re having, I thought a yummy, satisfying and simple recipe was just the ticket for this post.

While I am no chef, my mussels do have my household’s stamp of approved foods we crave often and have been a hit with many of our friends.

Personally, I love seafood, shellfish in particular, which is an issue for anyone who doesn’t live on a coastal town with fresh catch being brought in daily – it’s often pricey due to transport and shelf life tends to be iffy. I’ve found I can usually count on Caudle’s Catch in Kitchener for a decent price and fresh product; however the live mussels from Costco are hard to beat in both price and freshness and that is where I end up purchasing them the majority of the time.

Source: awesome Costco sale blog www.adventuresinnevyland.com

Source: awesome Ontario Costco sale blog www.adventuresinnevyland.com

Live mussels are easy to prepare for cooking and can be whipped up in 20-30 minutes once you’ve got a solid recipe down pat.

To start, you will need to clean and debeard the mussels as well as check them for quality. To do this I place the mussels into a colander in the sink and tap the slightly open ones to make sure they’re alive and good to eat – if they are, the shell will slowly seal shut; if they’re not, the shell will stay open. Throw out the mussels that stay open. The mussels from Costco don’t usually need a lot of cleaning or scrubbing and very little debearding, so I give them a good rinse and then debeard the few that may need it.

Source:  www.noshon.it

Debearding – Source: www.noshon.it

Once the mussels are clean, I set them aside either in the fridge or add in some loosely packed bags of ice to the colander to keep them cool.

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Depending on your personal taste buds, the next part is subject to your liking – the basic requirements are the same, though with a liquid for steaming and vegetables and/spices for flavour. Personally, I love to keep it simple with white wine, fresh cherry or canned tomatoes (side note: to speed up the flavour I’ve noticed a bolder presence with canned, diced tomatoes and the juice from the can), garlic, onion, fresh parsley and sometimes a bit of celery if I’ve got it.

To the ratio of two-packages (they come attached) of Canadian Cove farmed live blue mussels, which works out to be roughly 5.6lbs, add:

  • 1 large onion, (I prefer Sweet or a Spanish onion), chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3-4 cups of white wine (keep some extra on hand for ‘taste testing’ *wink* *wink*)
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 tbsp of finely chopped fresh parsley

Because when I cook I have to feed an army, this usually feeds 3-4 adults comfortably and then some if it’s being served as a main. As a side, halve the recipe and mussels.

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Broth before steamy pre-boil

I place all of the above ingredients, minus the mussels, into my trusty Starfrit 6qt deep pan with a vented glass lid and slowly bring to a steamy temperature, just before any signs of a boil then add in the mussels using a slotted spoon. I give the dish a good stir in, ensuring the mussels are well coated in sauce and then replace the lid, allowing the steam to build and the liquid to boil without getting out of hand (a gentle simmer, not a hard boil). I let it cook for about 10 minutes, making sure to stir the mussels into the broth every once in a while to even cooking and flavour infusion. You will know the mussels are done and ready for serving when the shells open.

Slowly starting to open, indicating 'ready' status!

Slowly starting to open, indicating ‘ready’ status!

Be sure to not overcook them or they will become rubbery and, while still edible, not nearly as enjoyable.

I like to serve them in deep bowls with a bit of broth and some nice crusty french bread for dipping. To up the ante, I whip up some garlic butter, give the bread a good spread then light toasting in the oven…mmm…I’m drooling at the thought.

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Looks like I know what’s for dinner tonight at my place!

~ Toni

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