For those of you who have not had your valve permanently shut by yesterday’s post, I will share something easy and light and Lenten-Friday friendly: bivalves. (Note: it took me about an hour to find that link. I blame the Korean anchovy-flavored ramen I had for lunch. I hadn’t eaten ramen in probably 5 years, and now I remember why.)
But anyway, to get back around to the point, mussels are extremely easy to cook, fairly inexpensive, and make a great appetizer or light supper. Seriously, try this for your next dinner party. Or lazy Sunday afternoon.
Dice some celery and onion. I used leeks this time, because I like them and the ones at the market were gorgeous, but shallots are more traditional. Put them in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add some thyme sprigs, bay leaf, salt and pepper.
Pour in a cup or so of dry white wine or Belgian white beer. This time, I used Hoegaarden. Bring this all to a simmer, and cook a few minutes to soften the vegetables a bit. Turn the heat up to high, add the mussels (a pound or so) and cover. Cook until steam comes out from around the lid, then grab the pot and lid (using hotpads or a dry towel, please!) and give it a good shake. Turn the heat down to medium and cook about 2 minutes longer. Check to see if the mussels have opened. If not, give them another minute or two. When most of the mussels are open, scoop them out into a bowl. Discard any that have remained closed. Swirl a tablespoon or two of butter into the juices in the pot and add freshly chopped parsley, if you like. Pour the juices over the mussels in the bowl, and go to town!
Serve with good bread and the remaining wine or beer. I know my neighbors to the North would argue in favor of frites, but bread is easier and is better at mopping up the delicious juices. If you have seafood forks lurking in the back of a drawer, now is the time to use them.