Monday, May 21, 2012

Little Miss Mussels

Did you ever read the Little Miss and Mr. books when you were a kid? I loved them! That's besides the point here though unfortunately.

It took me a long time to come around to mussels. For the longest time I thought they looked strange and the thought of figuring out how to eat them in public, let alone attempting to cook them, intimidated me. I finally had mussels and fries and was transformed. The transformation was complete when I visited Thomas Keller's Bouchon in Vegas back in February - his were so decadent and well-presented, the ultimate feast!

Finally, the stars aligned for me to "muscle up" and make some on my own. While flipping through this month's Family Circle, they had a recipe for Mussels and Fries in their budget section - mussels are affordable? Who knew! So I walked down to Whole Foods Market, and low and behold, mussels were on sale! I bought some on the spot and made some for Luke the next day for a welcome home lunch. He approved. Here's my variation on FC's dish:

Mussels and Fries

2 pounds baking potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon lemon thyme sprigs
1 ounce Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated
6 leaves basil, freshly chopped
2 pounds mussels
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine

Heat oven to 450 degrees . Place mussels in a large bowl of lightly salted cold water. Set aside.

Peel potatoes and, using a mandoline (a birthday present from Luke!), slice into 1/2 inch thick fries (alternatively, cut by hand). Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Scatter in a single layer on a baking sheet along with 1/2 of the thyme, still on the sprigs, and bake at 450 degrees for 17 minutes. Using a metal spatula (not tongs, I did and I broke a few!) flip potatoes and bake 15 more minutes or until they are browned. Remove from oven; toss with additional salt to taste. When ready to serve, sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano and basil.

Meanwhile, debeard mussels by pulling off the seaweed-like string between the shells. Discard any open mussels. (If open, tap on the counter; if shell closes, you can keep it.) Place mussels in a new bowl.

Melt butter in a large, lidded pot over medium heat (I used my medium-sized cast iron dutch oven). Stir in red onion and saute 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and saute another 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine, remaining thyme and salt to taste; bring to a simmer. Add mussels, cover and cook 6 to 8 minutes, or until shells have opened and mussels are cooked through. Discard any mussels that did not open.

Serve fries alongside mussels and cooking liquid.


ashley said...

Way to conquer your mussel fear! Looks delish.

Lindsay said...

Thanks Ashley! I was surprised how easy it was, looks like it's time to conquer more cooking fears :)