Before I begin, let me apologize for my absence the past few days. We had two different friends come stay with us in the past two weeks, so I was busy enjoying the city and doing things that I normally don’t go out and do unless I have motivation (i.e. showing our friends around New York). We went to the Upright Citizen’s Brigade a number of times (the one thing that we actually do on a regular basis), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Coney Island (where we got hot dogs from Nathan’s, of course), the Bronx Zoo (that’s our friend Clarisa and Kramer), Central Park, Battery Park…all of the city’s most beautiful sights, or at least a good number of them. I hadn’t gotten the chance to see the zoo or Battery Park yet, so I was really excited to do both of those things. We went to Coney Island for Memorial Day and I finally got to ride The Cyclone; it was insane! We sat in the last car, thinking it would give us the best experience, and my neck is still sore from being whipped around. It was probably the best roller coaster I’ve ever been on; nothing is as terrifying or as exhilarating as The Cyclone! We also went on the Wonder Wheel and had a great view of the crowds from the top. Perhaps the best part about having guests in town, though, is having an excuse to go out and eat lots of good food. Other than enjoying hot dogs and corn dogs from Nathan’s at Coney Island, we had some fantastic pizza at John’s Pizzeria in Greenwich Village, Wo Hop in Chinatown, brunch at Egg and Le Barricou and dinner at Pies and Thighs in Williamsburg, Burger Joint in Midtown, one of our favorite little bar/restaurants in Long Island City, The Creek and The Cave, and more that I can’t remember right now. I hope that Ty and Clarisa had a good time here with us!
One night while our friend Clarisa was here and we were going to a late comedy show, we decided to pick up some mussels while we were in Manhattan and make a simple, but delicious meal at home (the only night I actually cooked at home while we had company). I had never made mussels on my own before, but we had some delicious ones a few weeks ago at Le Barricou (linked above) and I wanted to try to make some similar ones on my own. I adapted an Ina Garten recipe (and followed her mussel-cleaning instructions because they were extremely helpful) and everyone seemed to really enjoy them! I bought four pounds of mussels for 3 people, but we ended up only eating half of what I bought because the broth and mussels, along with some crusty bread on the side, was surprisingly filling. I was mostly concerned with making a flavorful broth, and I was very pleased with the result. It tasted slightly rich, but not too rich for seafood, and the tomato paired wonderfully with the white wine, along with the amazingly fragrant shallots, garlic, and onion. I added a few sprigs of thyme and allowed everything to steam together with the mussels for no more than 10 minutes. I can’t wait to make mussels again and again! If you’ve never cooked seafood before, this is a great way to start, and they’re not that expensive! I went to Whole Foods (which I consider to be the most expensive grocery store) and they were still only $3 a pound (2 pounds fed the three of us). The mussels themselves were tender and steamed to the perfect consistency. I hope you’ll enjoy this laid back summer meal!
Place the butter and olive oil in your pot and heat until melted. Dice your shallots and onions and saute for a few minutes until softened over medium heat. Add in the garlic and saute for another few minutes.
Lower the heat to medium and add the rinsed and cleaned mussels, stir to combine, and cover. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until most of the mussels have opened up. Shake the pot a bit every few minutes with the lid on to be sure that the mussels don’t burn.
- 4 pounds cultivated mussels
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 large onion or 6 shallots, diced (I used 3 shallots and ½ a large onion)
- 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1⅓ cup white wine
- 1 14 oz. low-sodium can diced tomatoes, with juices
- 4 or 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon Sriracha or ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 10-12 slices of crusty bread, for serving
- To clean the mussels, put them in a large bowl with 10 cups of cold water and the flour, whisked together, and then soak them for 30 minutes, or until the mussels disgorge any sand. Drain the mussels, then remove the “beard” from each with your fingers or a knife, if you’re adventurous, but your fingers will work just fine. If they’re dirty, scrub the mussels with a brush or rough sponge under running water. Discard any mussels whose shells aren’t tightly shut (I only had to throw away about 8 of mine). It might take you up to 20 minutes or so to clean your mussels if they’re dirty, so be prepared time-wise.
- In a large non-aluminum stockpot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat until melted. Add the onion or shallots and saute for 5 minutes, until softened, then add in the garlic and saute for 3 more minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant and the onion or shallots are translucent. Add in the white wine, tomatoes, thyme, sriracha or red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Add in the cleaned mussels, stir well, then cover the pot, and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until all the mussels are opened (again, throw away any that do not open). With the lid on, shake the pot once or twice to be sure the mussels don’t burn on the bottom. Pour the mussels and the sauce into a big bowl and serve piping hot with some crusty bread for sopping up broth. Serves 5-6.