One of my favorite first course dishes to serve are mussels. I like to prepare them a few slightly different ways, which almost always include alcohol and a rich and savory broth. When served with some grilled crusty bread, a light salad and some homemade oven baked fries and you have a real winner of a meal.
Growing up in outport Newfoundland a common summer time activity was to harvest mussels amongst the slippery kelp covered rocks at low tide. A boil up on the beach with the mussels cooked in nothing more than the sea water from where they grew, was a meal that couldn't be beat, as I'm sure many of you can attest to.
Now a days, with a successful aquaculture industry in Newfoundland, getting great, fresh mussels is a luxury we can enjoy year round. Even here in New York and western Massachusetts I can get mussels anytime. They are always a product of either Maine of PEI (I wish they were Newfoundland raised) and cost a bit more than they do at home ($1.99/lb), they are always worth it.
This recipe below utilizes my beer of the month, Geary's Summer Ale (http://www.gearybrewing.com/), as the steaming liquid. The ale adds a spicy hoppiness that pairs perfectly with the other flavors of the dish. For the mussels I'd suggest 1 1/2 lbs per person for a main course. The following recipe is for 4 people and uses 6 lbs of mussels.
Steamed Mussels and Beer
Fill sink with cold water and add mussels. Scrub and remove beards if necessary. All mussels that float are good. Any that do not close when lightly tapped on the side of the sink are dead. Discard any with cracks or that do not close.
Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat and add
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 medium yellow onion, minced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
saute until onion is translucent, but not browned
add 1 tomato, diced fine
Pour in one bottle of your favorite beer (minus one good swig for the chef), a few cranks of freshly ground pepper and a pinch of kosher salt. Add the mussels and cover the pot.
Mussels should cook in5-8 minutes. Pour out into a large bowl, or divide into 4 individual bowls. Sprinkle with freshly chopped dill weed, green onion and lemon wedges. Served with a warm/grilled piece of crusty bread (I like sourdough) to be used to soak up the broth.
For the fries, which are an excellent accompaniment for the mussels.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Scrub 4-6 large russet/Yukon gold potatoes
Slice each spud in half, cut halves into 1/2 inch pieces lengthwise, and stack and cut pieces into french fries. Whatever size you want is fine, just remember that cooking time will be longer for thicker, steak cut fries, and quickest for shoe string fries. In a large bowl, rinse fries with water, drain and dry well in a kitchen towel. Add 4 Tbsp of olive oil, and a 1/2 tsp of black pepper and toss well. I usually save the kosher salt until the fries are cooked. However I often make seasoned fries and now is the time to add that, whether it be chili powder, seasoned salt, herbs and garlic, Mrs. Dash etc.
Spread fries out evenly on a large baking sheet. Once browned turn (usually 20-25 minutes) and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Season and enjoy. These taste like they were deep fried without the guilt.
A Wicked Scoff...Recipes and Food with Newfoundland and New England Influences.
This blog is dedicated to bring recipes, photographs, anecdotes, reviews and other insights on everything food related. As the name suggests, "A Wicked Scoff" will have a regional flare, a fusion if you will, of both Newfoundland and New England perspectives of the culinary world around me. Thanks for visiting and please come back often as updates will be frequent. Oh yeah, I also like tasting and cooking with regional beers. Expect a beer of the month, often paired with recipes.