Monday, February 15, 2010

Eric's Kitchen in Jersey City: Stuffed Mussels

I grew up in Norwalk, CT, hometown of the Oyster Festival and went to high school right near Mystic, CT, another hot-spot for Connecticut seafood. My Mom says my Dad gave me my first raw clam when I was 1, although I've heard this isn't necessarily a good idea... I guess what I am getting at is that I love seafood! I hadn't made stuffed mussels in a very long time and thought it was high time I tried it again. The first time it was mostly Parmesan cheese and butter. THis time I thought I'd make it more about the broth and white wine.

1 bag of fresh mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
1/2 cup White Wine (I used a Chardonnay)
1/2 cup Plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 Red Pepper, finely chopped
Fresh Parsley, chopped, about a handful
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp butter
black pepper

Anytime you make Mussels you need to make sure they are clean and de-bearded. The A&P near us happens to have pretty clean Mussels so it wasn't much work but I used a scrubbing pad and double checked for beards and yanked out the ones I found under cold water.

The first part of this recipe is to steam the Mussels until they open. I used the White Wine to steam them. Watch them carefully and take them out as soon as they open to ensure they don't get overcooked when you bake them. See the picture to the right for reference. When mussels or clams steam they release their juices into whatever you are steaming them in, creating a wonderful broth. I always use this broth for something and this time is no different.

I took the mussels out, and placed the half with the meat on a baking sheet. I took the broth off the burner and added the butter, red peppers, and parsley. Ideally, you stir this mixture and put it in the fridge until it's hardened so you can spoon it into the halves and then dip them into your breadcrumbs easily. I learned this while preparing clams casino in seafood restaurants in high school. Unfortunately I didn't have much time so I just scooped up some of the mixture in the shell and spooned some breadcrumbs onto each one. This took much more time but allowed me to eat these the same night.

Once the pan was full of stuffed mussels, I placed them under the broiler and watched them like a hawk for when they browned. I served them in a bowl and spooned the rest of the broth mixture on top of them. They paired perfectly with the rest of the White Wine I used to cook them in. I was very happy with the results!

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