Originally Posted: 20 Jan 2010 11:59 PM PST
I can’t believe I went a whole month without posting, I’m a little disappointed because I wanted to make sure when I changed the format of my site, it would not sit for eons untouched as my last incarnation did. Of course I have excuses, rather legitimate ones too…the holiday season just ended, a busy time for a chef and the impending arrival of not only my mother-in-law, but daughter number 2. My weekends have consisted of re-outfitting the house with all the baby paraphenalia from our first child. Digging out the swing, finding the car seats, cleaning the strollers, pullling out the baby clothes and doing oodles and oodles of laundry.
While the guilt piled up over the last couple of weeks about not posting for my sparse but loyal readership, I began searching for something I could do that was simple yet packed with flavor, something rustic yet classy that could be done by anyone with an oven. While perusing the availability list from my fishmonger, I stumbled across the mussels. This specific brand were from “Prince Edward Island” or PEI mussels, if you’re in the biz.
PEI mussels are farmed blue mussels, they are consistent, affordable, a little bland, but widedly available in grocers and fish markets. If you happen to be in a part of the country where you can get ‘wild’ mussels, go for it.
The first step when dealing with mussels is cleaning. Its very important to wash any dirt or mud off the shells. Covering the mussels with cold water and agitating them will help identify the live mussels from the dead, discard any mussels with open or broken shells. Next, some mussels will have a “beard” protruding from the shell, this is also know as the byssal thread, this is what keeps the mussel attached to the colony. You won’t find a “beard” on every shell, but if you do, grasp it firmly and pull while moving it side to side. Once removed you can discard.
Mussels can be kept for a day or two in the refrigerator in a dry container covered with a damp cloth. Do not use ice or water when storing the mussels as they need to breathe and can die in still water.
I’ve always preferred a dry cooking method for mussels such as roasting, it’s too easy to over cook the mussels in liquid or steam. They get tough and rubbery, not pleasant at all. Before we begin to prep our mussels, turn on your broiler, we want to get a direct heat source on the mussels.
- 1# mussels, cleaned and de-bearded.
- 1/4 cup minced garlic
- 4 oz. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 oz. lemon juice (approximately 1 large lemon)
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- salt and fresh ground black pepper.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the mussels, garlic and 1 oz. of the olive oil. Stir and toss well until all the shells are covered in garlic.
- Move to a saute pan large enough to hold the mussels and place in the center of the oven.
- In a separate mixing bowl, add the lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper. (Its important to add the salt in before the oil as this way it will be able to dissolve in the lemon juice.
- Add the olive oil to the lemon juice.
- Check the mussels and toss occasionally until all the mussels have open. The garlic should be browning nicely.
- Total cooking time should not be any longer than 3-4 minutes.
- Remove the mussels from the oven and discard any that did not open.
- Toss the remaining mussels in the lemon juice mixture and serve.