Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Journey with Mussels

Once upon a time there was a 20-something young woman who lived for two years on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Two blocks away was a trendy restaurant - it was considered a single's bar. But she did not know that. She knew two things:
  • they served the best mussels in the world and she would treat herself to that meal once a month - all by her lonesome - sitting in the back - slurping to her heart's content
  • this is why she lived in New York City and she would never leave her beloved hometown

Things change. And that's good. For if I didn't leave New York City, I never would have met Paul. We never would have had Matthew and Kirsten and acquired an array of pets rescued from shelters. I play that game often, "If I didn't leave New York...." or "if I didn't take that job I hated... " (where I met Paul). The roads that bisect, twist and turn constitute a life. And it's a better game than regret: "If only I did .... this... instead."
`
And the joy of mussels - aside from the slurp, chattering shells and the briney taste of the mussel meat surrounded by the velvet broth of herbs, wine and butter (I do go on) - is you can create it at home. You don't need to go to NYC to find the restaurant that is likely no more. You can create your own life-altering experience in the kitchen. Which I know must of you do on a regular basis.


And things have changed. The 20-something young woman has aged and the buttery broth is created with vegan butter (Earth Balance). The mussels were sacrificed but the flavor wasn't.
`
The wine and herbs give a nod to Italy. And the vegan butter - is a sweet nod to France (although the French may shudder at the notion of vegan butter). Perhaps this mussel recipe is served right on the border between France and Italy. Border guards smacking their lips with mussels while arguing which country produces the tenderest mussels. A fun thought.



The Broth: (for 2 pounds of mussels which in my home - served 2!)
  • 2 tablespoons virgin or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh parlsey and thyme - the French love tarragon in this or 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
  • 2 cups dry white wine (I used an inexpensive but not overly cheap Pinot Bianco)*
  • 4 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
*If you do not cook with wine, substitute clam juice or vegetable broth or fish broth instead. I love the sweetness of the wine sauce.

The Mussels:
2 pounds - scrubbed and debearded. You want them tightly closed. Discard any that are cracked or open. If they're just a wee bit open - tap them lightly with your finger. They should close and if they don't - discard them.

Can you see them just chattering? Really, it could make for a spooky dinner on Halloween.

Preparation:
  1. In a large skillet or saute pan, heat olive. When hot - but not sizzling, saute onions and shallots until soft and translucent (5-6 minutes).
  2. Add garlic. Saute 30 seconds.
  3. Add wine and bring to a simmer. Swirl in butter. Whisk till all is combined and melted and velvety rich.
  4. Add herbs and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add mussels. Stril until all are mixed in the broth. Cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes - until all are wide-mouthed and opened.
  6. Discard mussels that don't open. Ladle mussels into bowl and pour the broth over them. Serve.

And the bread - did I mention the bread?


You'll want some crusty bread to mop up all that lovely sauce.
`
It's as good as I remember from the olden days. Some things change and that's a good thing. Some things don't change and that's also good.

39 comments:

Mister Meatball said...

You will hate me, I am sure, but high on the to-do list is wood-fired mussels with almonds and (non-vegan, sorry) butter.

I'll shut up now, and just conjure a crispy boule sopping up your fine-looking broth.

whatsfordinneracrossstatelines said...

They would make a spooky yet delicious Halloween dish! I bet you are glad now you made those changes. I've never been to NY, I'd love to see it one day. I would also love some of those mussels with a whole loaf of sourdough bread to soak up all the juices.
-Gina-

eatgreek.net said...

mmm..... yummy!!!! Mussels are excellent!!!! :D

Kim said...

I play the what if game too. It's interesting how one choice can be the one thing that changes your life.

Your mussels are indeed floating in a velvety sauce, perfect for sopping up with some crusty bread. A beautiful meal!

A SPICY PERSPECTIVE said...

Isn't interesting how things NEVER turn out the way you plan, but always turn out for the best?

Good thing you had the time in NYC so you know how to prepare these!

5 Star Foodie said...

This is terrific - the broth looks so flavorful and delicious, definitely would need lots of bread to pick every bit of it up!

The Mom Chef said...

Oh, I wish my family liked this kind of meal like I do because it's so much better shared with someone. It looks absolutely divine!

Pegasuslegend said...

I just love mussels actually cooked them for the first time last christmas in red wine sauce but this is right for me and calling out my name love the sauce, butter is my friend for sure! I will just have to try this delightful way, and halloween does sound like a great time to do this! great idea!

Gera@SweetsFoodsBlog said...

Outstanding broth and mussels and like you said...I want that bread on that delicious sauce :)

All the best,

Gera

Donna-FFW said...

I kept thinking there will be bread at the bottom of this post.. and of course, you did not dissappoint. Lovely, Claudia!

Chow and Chatter said...

oh I love your blog and style Claudia its one of my favs great recipe and again keep on being you

Juliana said...

Claudia, I love mussels, but never cooked them at home since my husband does not eat them...yours look so tasty, so flavorful, great recipe :-)

Monet said...

I never thought I would like mussels, but my husband introduced to me a little over a year ago...and now I love them! Isn't it wonderful how life continues to change? Thank you for sharing this recipe. I love that you were able to use vegan butter! Here's to continuing to grown and change!

girlichef said...

And a bottle of wine! Oh how I wish I had myself a pound of these with a loaf of crusty bread for sopping up the glorious juices. I often play that game, as well... we never can tell where life will lead us...but we must enjoy the journey, huh? Glorious meal, Claudia :D

Dimah said...

What a great dish! looks tasty and flavorful!

Kristen said...

The best mussels I ever had were in the Gulf of Siam when I was a child. I would order an entire kettle of them, drowned in butter. I have been afraid that the childhood memory, made grander with time, would never be topped, so I have stayed away from mussels. Of course, in the middle of the Arizona Desert, I'd be afraid to try them anyway....not too fresh here, I think!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I am weak in the knees looking at your photos, Claudia!

I LOVE plump, steamed mussels!

I can almost taste yours and this delicious sweet and savory broth. The broth is such a wonderful bonus of taste, isn't it? You've made me want to run out and buy mussels for tonight's dinner...yum, yum!

Velva said...

If you didn't enjoy these mussels at the trendy Manhattan restaurant all by your lonesome-you may not know now, how you could oh so enjoy this meal again, after the twists and turns in the journey of life.

Barbara GF said...

I love how you use Earth Balance in such traditional dishes, Claudia - you are one savvy cook - no "what ifs" about it!

Foodessa said...

Claudia...I'm sure that your mussels came out better than the restaurant ones ;O)
Nice to know that your adventurous changes led you to a greater destination.

Ciao for now,
Claudia

Jen_from_NJ said...

I am so glad that everything worked out the way it did! Thanks you for this lovely post - those mussels look so good. I could slurp some up right now!

Choices said...

I love mussels and I often get them when ever I go out for dinner. I have never made them at home, but perhaps now I can.

Thank you for sharing one of my favorite dishes.

Reeni said...

These look absolutely delicious to me - but I can't bring myself to eat them Claudia! I grew up watching my Grandpa eat them all the time but yet something about them makes me...squeamish. I could go for some bread and sauce, even vegan butter sauce!

Quay Po Cooks said...

I will definitely show this post to my son when he next visits. He is crazy over mussels! This look absoutely lip-smacking!

denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

I don't think there is one thing in my life that has gone according to plan - and I don't know if this version is better than what I had in mind. But, it's where I am and it ain't bad, some of it's pretty darned good too :D

Lovely mussels, though the vegan butter has got me wondering. But, looking at that beautiful mussel-y broth, I have to say vegan butter has definite possibilities ;)

My Carolina Kitchen said...

We must be on the same wave length this week Claudia. Great minds, n'est pas?

Your mussels are food for the gods. Your description is poetry to my soul. Now, if I only lived next door and could drop by and enjoy this fabulous dish with you. It would definitely make my day.
Sam

Beth said...

I love looking back on my life and seeing how one path led to another, and another. Never a straight line, and how often I've been surprised!

Bridgett said...

Wow, just look at the sauce! My husband would be thrilled to come home to these for dinner. I will have to give your recipe a go. Better than the restaurant, I bet.

Letizia Golosa said...

Wow nice blog! You have so many yummy recipes!!!! This one looks delicious! I love mussles

theUngourmet said...

This post is a nice reminder. It is sometimes all too easy to begin to think of the "what ifs" and the "I shouldas". I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. Your mussels do look delectable and the crusty bread is a must! :)

Angie's Recipes said...

Mussels in wine and herbs....that's calling my name!

Jeannie said...

Oh yummy! I love mussels and your dish looks delicious!

Norma said...

Just found you through Gera of Sweet foods. Love your blog.

fromBAtoParis said...

I don't know which I like better: the mussels or your story..Thank you for giving me both!

blackbookkitchendiaries said...

this recipe sounds awesome:) thank you for sharing this.

Rosabela said...

What better way to duplicate a restaurant favourite at home! This looks and devine. One of my favourite dishes.

OysterCulture said...

You've reminded me in a very good way that its been too long since I've had mussels. Must make soon! Thanks

joe@italyville said...

Love these Claudia... and dunking the bread is the best part!

Katy ~ said...

I WANT THIS!!! Oh my, does this look deeee-lish!!!!