Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Just mussel through it

This is quite possibly the most elegant dish I've ever executed, but also the easiest (and even the cheapest). I had this done in 15 minutes flat. And the sweet and juicy mussels disappeared almost as quickly. Delicious and fresh, these $5 for 2 lb. mussels came from a fish market at the northeast corner of 31st Street and 30th Avenue in Astoria (carefully selected by my lovely assistant Dan!) and were probably the best specimens of pseudoped I've tasted as of late.

The recipe comes from Melissa Clark of the NY Times and it's just excellent, as are most of her creations. I dialed down the butter, since I'm not such a fan, and went with the parsley option instead of tarragon.

Add a crusty multi-grain baguette, and you have yourself a finger-lickin'-good weeknight dinner.

Ale-Steamed Mussels with Garlic and Mustard (by Melissa Clark, New York Times 4/8/09)
Yield: 2 servings

- 2 pounds mussels in shell
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 full sprigs thyme
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large shallots, chopped

- salt and pepper
- 3/4 cup good ale
- 1-3 tablespoons butter, to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or parsley
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Crusty bread, for serving

Rinse the mussels under cold water. Pull or cut off the beards (these are the stringy bits coming out the mouth of the shells) and scrub shells well with a vegetable brush.

In a soup pot with a tight-fitting lid, head the oil, add thyme, garlic, shallots and a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute until shallot and garlic are softened, about 3 minutes. Pour in ale and bring to a simmer. Add the mussels and cover the pot. Let the mussels steam, stirring once or twice, until they open, 5 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer mussels to bowls. Discard any that have not opened (these will have been DOA).

Add the butter, herbs and mustard to the pan juices and bring up to a boil. Whisk the sauce until the butter melts, then taste and adjust seasoning. Pour over the mussels and serve with bread for some serious sopping.