Mussels a' la Charyl. What, exactly does that mean? Well, a' la means "in the style of", or, "in the manner of". As I was attempting to find the perfect recipe for preparing mussels, of course, I couldn't. So, I combined a bunch of different methods and ingredients, and came up with, I think, one of the best tasting preparations I've ever had.
Should I steam them, (sort of) boil them, (sort of) fry them,(no) bake them?(no). Onions or no onions? (yes. Onions). Garlic?(Yes). Tomatoes? (yes). Parsley? (yes). Chicken broth? (Yes. Really). White wine? (Absolutely). Butter? (Yep).
These delicious bivalve mollusks are a great source of protein, easy and quick to prepare, cheap, and are downright delicious.
Let's make these bad boys.
At the supermarket, you'll see mussels in a (generally) 2 pound mesh sack. Ask to smell them. They should smell like the ocean. If they smell "fishy", they're old. Touch them. If they are slimy, they're old. Ask what date they came in, and on what date they were harvested. If the harvest date is more than 10 days, they're old. Have a steak instead.
O.K. Fresh mussels procured. These babies are alive. If your grocer puts them in a plastic sack and seals it up, they will die. No bueno. Make sure the mussels are exposed to air during transport home. This is not the time to go to the post office, dry cleaners, Taco Bell, or the nail salon. Get these mussels home immediately.
Now that they're home, put them in a bowl of ice water.
This does two things: 1. Mussels don't like tap water, so they will close. Now you can tell which ones are dead or alive. If they remain open. they're dead. Chuck 'em.
2. This helps to clean them off. These suckers can be dirty.
Mussels have a hairy sort of thing hanging out of one side of the shell. It's called the "beard". Pull it out and throw it away.
Let's get cooking.
Put 2 Tbls butter in a deep (at least 2 inch) skillet.
Chop up 1 onion, or 3 shallots. Put them in the skillet with the butter, over medium heat.
Let them sweat for about 5 minutes. Add a good pinch of salt to the onions. It helps them to release some liquid and helps them caramelize.
Throw it in the pot.
Let it hang out for a few minutes, until you can smell the herbs.
Halve some tomatoes. I use Campari in the winter, as they are sweeter than other hot house tomatoes in the winter. I used about 10, but they are very small, just a bit larger than a cherry tomato. Pull the seeds out with your fingers. Seeds can be bitter.
Throw them in the pot with the onions, garlic, and herbs.
Let these hang out for a few minutes. Then add 1 cup dry white wine. I use "Black Box". Seriously, Black Box is wine in a box that is great for cooking, and everyday drinking. I guess I'm not a wine snob. I think I should be paid for the endorsement. Whaddya think?
Pour it in the skillet.
Add one cup chicken broth. This is optional. Although, the broth makes a lovely, savory sauce.
Remove any un-opened mussels and throw them out.
Add 1 scant tsp Sriracha (hot Chinese chili sauce) to the remaining liquid. (Optional, for those that like a little kick. Don't like heat? Leave it out).