In which the world of culinary hedonism is explored with a cup and a half of curiosity, a heaping tablespoon of passion and a dash of clumsiness.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Forty-first Post ~ A Word on Mussels

So I've taken a little cooking hiatus, since I've spent the better part of the holidays at home with my family. And I think nearly all of my readers would agree that when you're given the opportunity to enjoy home-cooked meals from your mama's kitchen every day of the week, you seize that opportunity and you don't let it go. While staying at home, I did learn some valuable recipes from my mom, which I'll be detailing in later posts, including:
~ Perfect hamburgers, every time
~ New Year's Lobster Tails
~ Luscious Cranberry Torte
~ Melt-in-your-mouth Pork Tenderloin...
And many more. But tonight, I'd like to focus on a particular mollusk that I'm a big fan of.

Tonight was one of my first nights back in my apartment, so I thought it apropos that I cook one of the first meals that started me on this interesting journey: mussels in a tomato and wine sauce. I know I featured this recipe when I blogged a few months back about clams, but to be honest, I think that the little-recognized mussel deserves its day in the sun.

Mussels, to begin with, are a heck of a lot cheaper than clams. Clams ring in at $14.99 for a bag of 50 while a 2 lb bag of mussels runs you $4.99. I paid just under $2 for my usual boat of 15 mussels. As previously stated, they're not called "famine food" for nothing.

Call me crazy, but I also just think that mussels taste better than clams. As soon as they hit the sauce this evening, my kitchen filled with the fresh smell of the sea. And by that I don't mean "of seafood," I mean "of the sea" - fresh, clean, pure.

I crave mussels every so often, and maybe for good reason: one pound of mussels contains over 450% of your daily value of vitamin B12. Not to mention a good helping of iron, phosphorus and potassium.

So here's the recipe, in case you didn't catch it the first time around. Don't forget a nice crusty baguette (Paneras or Wegmans fit the bill on this one!) to soak up the sauce.

Here's what you'll need if you're cooking for one:

~ Mussels (about 15-20)
~ 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
~ 1/2 white wine
~ clove (or teaspoon jarred) garlic
~ 1-2 bay leaves
~ Dash of dried thyme
~ Depending on wine used, a splash of lemon juice for some added acidity

Combine sauce, wine, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and lemon juice in a medium sauce pan with a well-fitting lid. As the sauce starts to simmer, add the mussels after cleaning them under running water.

Slap the lid on and walk away for 3-4 minutes. Pour your wine (I highly recommend Pinot Grigio; tonight's was by Pepperwood Grove) and lay a towel down over your tablecloth. Seriously. You may think I'm joking, but I need it, and I was the child that had my grandfather install a bench at the corner of my sandbox so I could play in the sand but not get myself dirty.

Discard any mussels that don't open. Transfer the open mussels into a bowl and enjoy with the bread and wine. A fine, nutritious, inexpensive, easy meal! What's not to love?

Yours in the love of good food and wine,

The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.