Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Quick and Easy Recipes: Mussels Steamed in Beer

After realizing recently how easy mussels are to cook, I was hooked. At $2-something a pound, I can't think of a much cheaper way to have a fancy-schmancy home cooked meal. This month's Bon Appetit had a bunch of totally delish sounding Belgian recipes, and Belgium was indeed where I tasted my first moules, so I couldn't resist.

No one knows this but Mr. AT, but I have an odd affinity for beer breath. There's just something about the smell of beer that makes me swoon. So this recipe was perfect - the Hoegaarden smelled wonderful when combined with the herbs. Not only that, but the Parmesan Croutons were such crunchy, salty perfection that they might well make appearances in other dishes from here on out.

I know friends have mentioned they're scared of preparing mussels, but it's seriously so easy. The grocery store has already debearded them, so the only part that takes any special effort is throwing out the open ones before you cook them and the closed ones after you cook them. Other than that, it couldn't be easier. This recipe took no more than 20 minutes to prepare and seemed like a restaurant quality dinner. I served with fries and a Hoegaarden for an authentic Belgian experience!

Mussels Steamed in Beer with Crème Fraîche, Herbs and Parmesan Croutons
Bon Appétit | May 2010
by Mathieu Palombino

Yield: Makes 6 servings
 4 5 x 3 x 1/2-inch slices country-style bread, crusts removed, bread cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 cup chopped fresh chervil (optional)
2/3 cup crème fraîche
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole grain brown mustard or whole grain Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons butter
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
5 pounds mussels, scrubbed, debearded
3 cups diced seeded tomatoes (about 4 large)
1 cup chopped green onions (about 4)
1 12-ounce bottle Belgian white beer (such as Hoegaarden)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine bread cubes, Parmesan, and oil in medium bowl; sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Spread bread cubes evenly on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until bread cubes are crisp and golden around edges, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Mix parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil, if desired, in small bowl. Whisk crème fraîche and both mustards in another small bowl to blend; set aside.

Melt butter in extra-large pot with lid over high heat. Add garlic and thyme; stir 1 minute. Add mussels, tomatoes, and green onions. Pour beer over, then add crème fraîche mixture; sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Cover tightly with lid and cook until steam appears, about 3 minutes. Add half of fresh herb mixture and stir until mussels and herbs are gently mixed. Cover tightly with lid again and cook until mussels open, 4 to 5 minutes (discard any mussels that do not open).

Using slotted spoon, divide mussels among 6 bowls. Season mussel juices lightly with salt and pepper, then pour juices over each serving. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan croutons and remaining herb mixture and serve.



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