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Friday, May 27, 2016

Mussels Baked with Tomatoes and Potatoes

Sadly not my local seafood market. These are HUGE mussels on display at the River Market in Valdivia Chile

Dropped off the map recently. Went to Texas to visit family. Not much cooking going on there, though I did make a damn good Greek lamb stew for the fam. Did manage to snag some epically good BBQ at Pecan Lodge in Dallas. Boy, if you are near there, check it out! Delicious. Seriously delicious. Just expect to wait in line - it's also very popular. Back to husband breaks his collarbone. Yeah, that's been fun. And, we just broke ground on our new house in the mountains and we had relatives visiting from Chile. Whew!
Just had to share a photo of the spread at Pecan Lodge. That beef rib weighed nearly 1 1/2 lbs! No, I didn't eat it by myself.

I made this because mussels were on sale. I love mussels. Actually, I like most food that comes from the sea. Mussels are cheap, very nutritious, and amenable to many preparations. Most mussel lovers know of moules frites. This is a bit different, a casserole. Hearty and tasty. The original recipe came from Marcella Hazan and I pulled it out of Gourmet. And I tweaked it. Because that's what I do.

Mussels Baked with Tomatoes and Potatoes
(serves 4)

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ pounds potatoes, scrubbed
1 14-16 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
3 pounds mussels, debreaded and scrubbed
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
4 Tablespoons panko crumbs
4 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
salt & black pepper
non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a 2 quart deep gratin dish with cooking spray or grease with a little olive oil.

Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan. Cover with water, add about ½ Tablespoon salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender but not soft. Drain and run cold water over the potatoes to cool. Set aside while you cook the mussels.

In a large pot, cook the mussels, covered, over medium heat until they open. It takes about 5 minutes for most of them to open. Remove the open ones to large bowl and cook for another 2 minutes. If a mussel doesn't open, discard it.

While the mussels are cooling, peel the potatoes and slice in ¼" slices. Lay the potatoes in the gratin dish and season with salt and black pepper.

As soon as the mussels are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the shells and set the meat aside in a medium bowl. Add olive oil, parsley, garlic, 2 Tablespoons bread crumbs, 2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Mix to combine well. Taste it for seasoning and adjust if needed.  Spread the mussels on top of the potatoes. Top with the drained tomatoes. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Cover with the remaining bread crumbs and cheese. Spray generously with cooking spray (see Note). Bake for 20 minutes until the top is golden. Let the dish sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Note: Being a small person, I try to cut back on the fat (which adds lots of calories) where I can. If you want to make this richer, toss the bread crumbs for topping the casserole with an additional 2 Tablespoons olive oil rather than using the cooking spray.