Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mussels with Herb & Garlic Butter

Mussels with Herb & Garlic Butter on a salad
Mussels with Herb & Garlic Butter
I have to admit, I'm not much for mussels. It's just the thought of eating the squishy things. With a father allergic to seafood, or so I was raised thinking, I didn't grow up eating any seafood. It's kind of ironic that I was born on the little island of Cuba, surrounded by water...and surrounded by seafood; yet, seafood was taboo in our home. Now, having a personal chef business, there is no room for limited thinking in my endless mind chatter. It's up to me to continue my growth as an adult and as a personal chef. It's up to me to expand my taste pallet in the realm of seafood. In this manner, I am better able to serve my clients. Some foods will take longer than others for me to delve into. Slowly but surely, I continue to awaken the taste buds with food that is healthy and, in most instances, very quick to prepare. (Most seafood takes very little time to cook.) As such, I decided to start expanding my seafood journey with mussels. If some of you already have experience with mussels, and perhaps love them, this recipe will not disappoint. If you are an individual that has never tried mussels, for reasons other than being allergic to it, give this recipe a try. I found myself pleasantly surprise by this dish! My husband and I ate the whole thing! And we really enjoyed it!

This dish can be served as a Tapa or appetizer, along with fresh salad greens, complimenting other seafood, yellow rice, or even pasta. It's up to you. It's very versatile. 

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 1 lb 12 oz/800 grams fresh mussels, in their shells
  • splash of dry white wine, such as a sauvignon blanc or whatever you have on hand
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 oz/85 grams of butter
  • 12 oz/350grams (generous) or 1/2 cup fresh white or brown bread crumbs
  • 4 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus extra sprigs to garnish
  • 2 Tbsp snipped fresh chives
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon wedges, to serve

1.  Preparing the mussels is the first step. If you've never done this before, its not as intimidating as it may appear. I place the mussels in a bowl of cold water, that has been mixed with a handful of flour, for 30 minutes. This causes the mussels to  drink the water and purge out their sand. After the 30 minutes, scrub the mussel shell under cold running water and pull of any beards. Discard any shells that are cracked or broken.

2. (Prepare the topping) Melt the butter and pour into a small bowl. Add the bred crumbs, parsley, chives, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste and mix well together. Allow the mixture to rest until the butter has set slightly.

3. Place the mussels in a large pan (that has a tight fitting lid) and add the wine and the bay leaf. Cook, covered, over high heat for 5 minutes. Shake the pan a little occasionally or until the mussels open. Drain the pan and discard any mussels that are closed. (Those mussels were dead to begin with, so don't eat them.) At this point, it should appear similar to the photo below.
cooked mussels
Next, shell the mussels by removing half the shell. Keep the half in which the mussel is in its shell and arrange in a large, shallow, ovenproof serving dish.

4. Using your fingers or a spoon, take a large pinch of the herb butter mixture and fill each mussel shell, pressing down firmly. It should appear something like the photo below.
Mussels topped with Herb butter mixture and ready for oven

5. To serve, bake the mussels in a preheated oven, 450 degrees F / 230 degrees C, for 10 minutes, or until hot. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley sprigs, and accompanied by lemon wedges for squeezing over them.

Extra Tips: Substitute a gluten Free bread crumb if one is on gluten free diet. I know I've seen some gluten free bread crumb products at Whole Foods.

Credits: this recipe is from "Spanish a collection of over 100 essential recipes" ISBN: 978-1-4075-4949-1. Copyright Parragon Books. (I just love this little book.)

Buen Provecho,