The other day I was watching an old episode of the Barefoot Contessa about a seafood salad she was making for a friend and it included mussels. That got me to thinking about an old mussel recipe I had but never really tweaked. Since I needed a new post idea I decided I would work on creating a Kicked Up Mussels recipe.
Both my hubby and I love seafood and besides eating a lot of chicken we eat a lot of fish. Once in a while I will throw together a shrimp or scallop meal if I have the ingredients. That is one of the issues I have in creating new meals during the week. It is too easy to keep using over and over again the same ol’ staples I keep in the pantry. Preparing a special meal takes planning and sometimes calls for an extra trip to the grocery store. Because I work full-time I don’t always have a lot of time to be creative with dinner. However, I have been known to have a burst of creativity now and again if I have not had a tough day at work. The weekends are really the best time for me to test out recipes and take my time to fashion a new recipe or try an old recipe with a new twist.
Okay, back to the Kicked Up Mussels. I had to search a couple of my old recipe journals to find my mussel recipe and was happy to discover it was a pretty simple one. My original recipe called for beer instead of white wine like most other recipes. I could not remember if this was a good idea or bad idea. But hey, I use beer in a few of my recipes and I have not heard any complaints yet so I guessed it was a good idea. Since I was using beer instead of wine I had to find a nice light beer with a hint of citrus flavors rather than a dark beer which I thought would be heavy. I am not a beer drinker so my apologies to true beer drinkers if I don’t know what I am talking about. I did a little research by perusing the beer isle at a local liquor store with a large variety of beers. I landed on Namaste White which is by Dogfish Head Brewery located in Delaware.
As a non-beer drinker I must say I enjoyed taking a swig of Namaste White after adding most of it to the mussels. The combination of orange, lemongrass and coriander in the beer along with the brininess of the mussels and aromatic herbs was genius. All right. I may not be a genius but the combination of flavors was genius. I will even go as far as to say my recipe would be welcomed in any 4 star restaurant. The proof is in the pudding. You be the judge and try it out.
Kicked Up Mussels
2 dozen mussels cleaned
3 plum or tomatoes diced
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 shallots diced
1 jalapeno pepper seeded and diced
1 Namaste White beer
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp parsley
½ tsp thyme
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
Clean mussels by running them under cold water and gently scrub them if necessary to remove dirt from the shells. Use a knife to remove the fuzzy beard if present. Arrange mussels in a large skillet. Set aside while sauteing tomatoes.
Place olive oil in a medium sized non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic shallots, jalapeno pepper and tomatoes. Season with salt, black pepper and thyme. Stir then saute for 2 minutes. Move mussels to heat and pour tomato mixture and beer over mussels. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and shake to mix tomatoes and mussels. Cover and cook for 3 minutes until mussels pop open. Discard any mussels that do not open. Sprinkle with parsley before serving. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the delicious sauce.
Tip: Cultivated mussels vs. wild mussels.
If you purchase wild mussels, they may be a little gritty which means your mussels will be crunchy. To make sure you remove any sand from the mussels dissolve about 1/4 cups of salt and 2 cups of warm in a large pot along with 2 tbsp of flour or cornmeal. Add the mussels then cover with water. Soak for 1 – 2 hours. Drain then rinse the mussels with cold water. Most mussels you find in the grocery store are cultivated and do not contain a lot of sand or grit so there may not be a need to soak the mussels. Just clean the shells. To be on the safe side I would soak the mussels as I described.