The first time I had mussels I was nineteen at the Plaza area of Kansas City, Missouri dining at the Bristol Seafood Restaurant. Yes, it was not France or Belgium, it was Missouri where I had my first mussel. My sister had recently gotten married and moved to Kansas City. She was working as a server at the Bristol and told me I had to have them and they were served with garlic bread. Okay, I am in. (Traditional served with fries in France and Belgium. I also enjoy it served with simple crusty French bread to sop all the juices from the bowl.) Fabulous tasting. I was struck how elegant it was in appearance and how luscious the tastes were.
It would be years before I would ever attempt to cook them myself. They are delicious, quick to make and seem sorta fancy, but mussels are great priced. Anything tasty, affordable and about 15 minutes to cook from start to finish is now a regular on my family’s dinner table.
I can get about 9-10 lbs. at Costco for about $2 a lb. They sell shellfish only on Thursday- Sunday and, of course, with all things Costco… you have to buy 9 to 10 lbs. Julia Child says that you need 3 lbs for 4 people as an appetizer or 6 lbs for 4 for dinner. I bought my mussels at my trusted fish monger, The Fish Guy, for $4.95 a lb. he suggested that 2 lbs. per person. He has a point. They go down like popcorn. I decided on a lb. per person for lunch.
Now it pays to have a great fish monger. The Fish Guy throw in a couple extra hand fulls because you will always have a few dead mussels. The good news is that you can easily tell which mussels are dead or alive. All mussels should be closed tight. If they are slightly opened, tap lightly and if they close they are still alive and you can use. Anyone that is open, even slightly and does not close should be tossed. You do not want to be sick because you had a bad mussel. I have bought the Costco 9 pounder for 4 people. I had to throw about 2 lbs away of dead mussels. Still a great price and value.
I make an “onion jam” that I use to add another layer to my dishes at the last minute. I make up a big batch and I used it in different ways… for instance in a pan sauce after I saute’ a pork chop or in meatloaf, etc. I included it here, but if you do not need to use it. Just add 1/2 of finely chopped onion when you add the red pepper. You can also replace the clementine juice with about 1/4 cup of orange juice.
- 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 whole cloves
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons butter
- salt & pepper, to taste
- Add olive oil, onions, bay leaves, cloves, and thyme in a saute pan. Mix and heat over medium low heat for about 10 minutes.
- Add butter and water. Just make sure that there is enough water to cover all the onions. Cover and turn down to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes. Add more water if it is needed.
- Take out bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and cloves before seasoning with salt and pepper. It will be used in other recipes, so keep it subtle.
- Store in fridge and scoop out onions when needed.
Mediterranean Rim Mussels:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 red pepper, finely chopped
- 3 gloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4-1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup onion jam
- 1 lemon, juice of
- 2 clementine, juice of
- 2 pinches saffron
- 1/2 cup spanish green olives, finely chopped
- 2 lbs, clean live mussels
- In a large covered pan, add olive oil, red peppers, & garlic. Cook down over medium heat.
- Add white wine, jam, lemon juice, clementine juice, saffron, and olives. Cook for about 3-5 minutes so that alcohol is cooked off a bit. Taste and adjust seasoning, but remember the muscles will add more of seafood salt flavor.
- Add mussels cover and steam until mussels open up and all their lovely juices seep out. Approximately a minute or two.
- Pour mussels and pan juices in to bowl. Enjoy.