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Friday, May 7, 2010

How Do You Cook Mussels?

What are Mussels? - Consisting of a thin shell held together by a muscle, the meat is tougher than oysters or clams, but has a subtle sweet flavor. They once were sold wild and they had to be scrubbed, purged with fresh water, and debearded. Today, most mussels on the market come with these chores already done.  

Cleaned and debearded mussels are sold in 2-pound bags and yield about two 3 1/2-ounce portions.

To Prep the Mussels - Before you start cooking, discard any mussels with broken shells or shells that won’t close. (Do the same with any that don’t open after they’ve been cooked.)

Rinse the mussels in cool water and scrub the shells of any sand.  If the greenish-black beards are still attached, simply pull them out of each mussel and discard.

To Cook the Mussels - There are many ways to cook mussels.  They can be used in dishes like Cioppino or Mixed Seafood Paella, in which the rice, sauce and other ingredients in the dish actually help in the cooking process.

Steaming Mussels is very simple. This recipe uses white wine and herbs to gently infuse flavor into the tasty mussels.

3 - 4 lbs  Mussels, cleaned
2 TB  Olive Oil
1 TB  Butter
2 TB  Minced Garlic
1/4 tsp  Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1-1/2 cups  Dry White Wine
1/2 cup  Fresh Parsley, chopped

In a large pot heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Add the mussels, wine and half of the parsley to the pan, cover and increase the heat to medium-high.  Cook for 2 minutes then remove the lid and stir the mussels.  Cover the pot again and cook until the mussels are open, about 3 - 4 more minutes.  Sprinkle the mussels with the remaining parsley, stir and serve in large soup bowls with lots of crunchy French bread on the side.

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