GINNA PARSONS: Mussels create memorable dish

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

My husband and I took last week off from work so we could spend some time with our son, Patrick, during his spring break. Charlie and I also wanted to begin work on a bathroom remodeling project, so we knew any “fun” had to be had early in the week.
So two days after school let out, we loaded Patrick and his friend, Josh, into the Jeep and headed to Memphis for a couple of days of eating and shopping. The trip ended with a visit to my favorite store, The Fresh Market.
We bought some fresh fish and nice bread and a hunk of imported cheese. I picked up some packets of basil, bay leaves and oregano from the spice bin. The boys filled plastic bags with an assortment of gummy candies from big glass jars.
At the last minute, we returned to the seafood counter and bought two pounds of mussels. Ever since we devoured a huge bucket of them in Paris one rainy Sunday afternoon, we eat them whenever the opportunity presents itself.
But we’d never actually prepared them ourselves. So Charlie went online and found a simple recipe and we gave it a shot. They were delicious and every bit as good as the ones we’ve had in restaurants.
Our only complaint was that we didn’t buy more, especially at just $4 a pound.

Steamed Mussels
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small shallots, minced
1 (12-ounce) bottle of beer (lager is better)
2 pounds mussels
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves and stems, finely minced
Fresh ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat large pot or a Dutch oven over medium heat; add olive oil and melt the butter. Add shallots; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
Add mussels to the pot, and pour in the lager. Close lid and let mussels steam over medium heat until shells are open and the mussels turn opaque, 5 to 6 minutes. Make sure to shake the pan occasionally to ensure even cooking.
Remove the mussels and place in a serving dish. Let the broth rest a few minutes allowing any remaining sand to settle to the bottom of the pan. Carefully pour out the broth using a ladle, avoiding the bottom. Top with cilantro leaves, black pepper, and a nice squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese to finish off. Serve hot with crusty bread to mop up the juices.
Serves 2.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.

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