|At this point, I realized I hadn't taken a picture but I had already eaten a bunch of them. Let me tell you, it took some restraint to stop and take a picture!|
Mussels are my favorite "cheap" seafood. I love all seafood: raw oysters on the half shell, lobster, shrimp, all manner of crab. What do all these delicious things have in common? All pricey! Mussels are not cheap like pinto beans, but compared to the rest, they are an outright bargain. They are so adaptable too. So many sauces work on the flavorful but not fishy tasting mussel. I went to a Belgian restaurant in Montreal a couple of summers ago and they had pages of variations.
If you have a Costco near you, you can get a great price on mussels during their Seafood sales. They have lots of other great things, like giant scallops, crabs, shrimp, and clams at a good price, but they are still hardly cheap. The mussels are the cheapest of them all.
Mussels in Mustard Dill Sauce
2 pounds mussels
2 Tablespoons butter
1 shallot, minced
½ medium onion, minced
1 cup white wine or dry white vermouth
1 bay leaf
⅓ cup light cream or half and half
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon curry powder
Scrub mussels well. Debeard if needed.
In a large pot, melt 1 Tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and onion. Sauté until translucent, a few minutes. Add the wine and bay leaf, then the mussels. Cover and steam until mussels are open. They open at different rates. Start checking after 5 minutes and remove any opened mussels to a bowl to prevent overcooking. Stir and recover pot. Check again in a couple of minutes for more opened mussels. After 10 minutes, they will have opened or they are dead. Discard any unopened mussels. Put the open ones in the bowl with the rest and set aside, covered with foil to keep warm. Pour off the mussel liquid through some damp cheesecloth to remove any sand or bits of shell. Return liquid to the pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes until reduced to about ¾ cup. Add the cream, mustard, dill, black pepper, and curry powder. Stir well to combine. Remove from heat and whisk in the 2nd Tablespoon of butter. Taste for salt; mussels have lots of natural salt so you may not need any. Pile the mussels in two bowls and pour the sauce over them. Serve with bread to soak up the sauce.
Adapted from Rose's Melting Pot: A Cooking Tour of America's Ethic Celebrations by Rose Levy Beranbaum, William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1993.