Thursday, September 8, 2011

mussels with white wine and garlic

This was my first go-around at making mussels at home and it was super easy. Unfortunately I didn't remember to document the cooking progress until the tail end so there are only a couple shots of the finished product:
This is one of those dinners that looks fancy and labor intensive but is actually really simple.  Mussels are a very inexpensive protein source-- they're affectionately referred to as the 'poor man's oyster'.  These cheap mollusks are an excellent source of iron and protein. Although they are not high in dietary fat, they do have natural cholesterol (48mg/3oz serving) so be careful as not to over indulge if you have a history of high cholesterol.

Mussels with white wine and garlic (serves 3-4)
2-3 lb fresh mussels, rinsed (1 bag at my local seafood grocer)
approximately 1 cup water
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2-1 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 tsp dry parsley or 1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 1/2 Roma tomatoes, diced
lemon juice squeezed from half of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste
optional-- shallots, basil, crushed red pepper (be creative!)

Prepping this dish is really simple. I served them atop of whole grain angel hair spaghetti but they would also make a great appetizer with crusty bread.  I started by boiling water for the pasta.  When the pasta was dropped in the water, I began cooking the mussels.
To start, heat the butter and olive oil in a large pan--I used a wok. Next add the lemon juice, garlic, and parsley.  I ran the garlic cloves through my garlic press but finely mincing with a knife would work too. Maybe it's my Italian blood, but I am desensitized to garlic so I use it in large quantities. If this isn't your preference, cut back to 1-2 cloves.
Once that's heating, add the water and wine on high heat, let it heat up for a minute or two then add the mussels. When cooking with wine, this is my rule of thumb: If it's good enough to drink, it's good enough to cook with. If you wouldn't want to sip it, leave it out of your cooking too.
When their shells start to open, add the diced tomatoes. The mussels are fully cooked when they open up-- if left on the heat for too long, they will get tough and chewy.  If the mussel does not open in the cooking process, do not open them yourself and eat them-- it means they aren't good.
That's all there is to it, from start to finish it's only about a 10 minute process and a million times better than any instant meal or drive through option!


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