Monday, July 16, 2012

Embarrassingly Simple: Mussels Steamed in Beer

Mussels. I wrote them off as a youngster because they were part of my sand castle building. They did not belong on a plate, but better served as the stone work for the bridge over my castle's moat. But never be too afraid to try something new again. Our palates are constantly changing. I keep telling this to my husband about tomatoes. No luck so far.

A few rules of thumb for these creatures of the sea:

1) Buy mussels day of. They are alive until you cook them (I know... don't panic) and won't last very long in your fridge.

2) Most seafood counters will sell them scrubbed and debearded, but you still want to rid them of any sand. Simply place them in a bowl of water and flour. They will "drink" in some of the flour and spit it out WITH any sand. Such an easy trick. Same works for clams. Have you tried my Monterey Clam Chowder yet? It's not as simple as this recipe, but one of my best soups by far.

3) Before putting mussels into pot, throw away any that are already opened. These ones have already died and will make you sick if you eat them. Because of this, you usually want to buy at least 25% more than you think you need.

4) After cooking them for a few minutes the shells will start to open. If any of them are still closed, discard. These also died. So: closed tight before cooking and open wide after cooking--- THOSE are the ones you want to eat.

I got this cute little booklet with some official Stella glasses for Christmas. I was excited about the glasses and just as excited for the little recipe book. Cooking with beer! What could be better?! Well, OK, cooking with wine. Speaking of wine... pairing this dish with beer would be great, but why do great when you could do fabulous?

We broke out a Sauv Blanc from one of the first wineries we ever visited in the great Willamette Valley. If you ever see Bergstrom in the store... you can count on it being a treat. Their whites, their Pinots, their view... it's all spectacular.

You know you are into wine when you own a ridiculously big opener complete with stand.

"But Honey, the shipment comes with a cool little opener," Chris told me a few years ago. Days later, the USPS guy wheeled a large package to our door. Thinking the size was a little over-kill for three bottles of wine, I brought the box to the kitchen. Out came what looked like a mid-evil torture devise. We needed another bedroom for this thing! Anyway, I've grown to love our "cool little opener."

Found this easy little recipe. I used a different beer than Hoegaarden, but I don't think anyone will tell them, right? Any lighter Belgium style beer will do.

More an IPA drinker?  You might want to try my Savory Beer Stew...

Mussels Steamed in Beer (adapted from Taste, by Stella Artois)

2 lbs mussels

1 medium yellow onion finely chopped

1/2 bottle of beer

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 handful of fresh chopped parsley, chopped

Baguette sliced and toasted for dipping

Sea Salt (not pictured)

On the stove, heat a wide pot to medium high.

Add the beer, onion and muscles.

Cover pot and let them cook a few minutes.

After they open (should take 5-6 minutes) stir in cream and sprinkle with parsley and a dash of Sea Salt. Fish out any unopened mussel to discard.

Serve from a big shallow dish or in the pot you cooked them in. Serve with lightly toasted baguette to sop up all the briny goodness.

Mussels always look impressive. They are a quick and classy dish. I've told you all you need to know. Now, go impress! It's that easy.

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