Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mussels on the Grill!

There's a fun little restaurant in San Antonio called La Frite Belgian Bistro.  They have all sorts of delicious, traditional dishes like vol au vent, crepes, and other fancy sounding foods that I understand are actually home-style meals-- at least in Europe!  One dish that Ben and I enjoy there is Moule Frite, a dish of mussels cooked in a flavorful wine-y broth and served with French fries!  Yum!  I never got into dipping the fries in mayonnaise, but I'm told that's traditional.
Anyway, so mussels are a super easy meal to prepare at home!  They are a good source of all kinds of vitamins and minerals, are a sustainable sea food (a farm-raised product), and cook up super fast.  Plus, they taste great!  If you haven't eaten them before, they have a kind of mineral-y, clam-like taste, but sweeter than other bivalves.  Mussels were on sale the other day at our market, so I thought it might be fun to try cooking them outside on the grill-- you know, less Belgium, more Texas :)
Well, this was the BEST dish of mussels I've ever made!  The broth was slightly smokey and the mussels cooked up very tender and sweet.  Served with sweet potato fries (although regular fries are ALWAYS good!), this was a different, delicious twist on an already terrific dish!

Mussels on the Grill (2 entree sized portions)
2 lbs. fresh mussels 
2 Tbl. olive oil
2 strips bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1-1.5 cups vegetable broth (I like Trader Joe's organic)
chopped parsley or chives
Cast iron skillet (or another type that can go directly on an outdoor grill)

Nowdays, farm-raised mussels have been cleaned quite well.  Still, check them all very carefully to make sure they are still alive.  Each mussel should feel heavy and be tightly closed.  When you tap on it, it shouldn't sound hollow.  If a mussel is open, tap on the shell.  If it closes, the mussel is good, but if it doesn't, then throw it away.
Wash the mussels in a colander under running water to remove any sand or grit.  Remove any black stringy things that might be hanging from the mussels.  Those are called the "beard" and help the mussel anchor itself to rocks, etc.  
Put the skillet over hot coals.  Add the olive oil, bacon, and garlic.  Cook until the bacon is looking crisp.  Add the vegetable broth, salt and pepper and heat until boiling.
Now add the mussels all at once.  Stir gently.  Cover the grill and cook the mussels for 5 minutes.  They should be open and look very dramatic :)  Bring the skillet to the table and sprinkle the chives over.  Ladle the mussels and broth into bowls.  Throw away any mussels that didn't open.
Serve with sweet potato (or regular) fries and crusty bread to soak up the delicious broth!
Bon appetit, ya'll!

P.S.  My next entry will be my 100th post!  What should I do?  

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