Selecting & Cleaning Mussels
Mussels must have tightly closed shells until cooked. If the mussels are placed in a plastic bag, make sure it is left open. Without air the mussels will die. If any are open when you are ready to clean them, a dunk in fresh water or a sharp squeeze should cause the shell to close. Clean mussels just before cooking. Scrub them under running water with a stiff brush to remove debris, and pull off the “beards” (tufts of fibers projecting from the shell that anchored the mollusk to its underwater perch). Never cook a mussel that remains open. Gaping or broken shells mean the mussel has died, and is not safe to eat. Conversely, never eat a cooked mussel if the shell has remained tightly closed.
Classic Steamed Mussels
3 pounds fresh cleaned mussels
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 bunch parsley, stems removed and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half and half
Melt butter in a large stainless steel soup pot. Add onion, parsley and garlic, and sauté until wilted. Add mussels, pour in wine, and bring to a low boil. Cover tightly and steam for approximately 5 minutes, or until the mussels have opened. Remove mussels to serving dishes. Add cream to cooking liquid and return to the boiling point. Remove from heat, stir and pour over the mussels. Accompany with lots of crusty bread to mop up the broth. Makes four appetizer servings or two main dish servings.
Garlic Stuffed Mussels
(An Bord Iascaigh Mhara - Irish Sea Fisheries Board)
24 fresh cleaned mussels
1⁄4 cup water
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1⁄4 cup minced parsley
fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
Place mussels in a large pot with the water. Bring to a boil, cover tightly and steam for approximately 5 minutes, or until the shells have opened. Remove and discard one side of each mussel shell and place the mussel halves in a shallow baking pan.
Combine the butter, garlic, breadcrumbs and parsley with lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Spoon bread crumb mixture onto each mussel half being sure to cover the meat completely. Place under a pre-heated broiler and grill 5-10 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Makes four appetizer servings.
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