A bunch of folks out there are saying it is, in fact, fall but I can tell you that in Nashville, TN, we’re still enjoying a blistering 90 degrees. YAY US!!
But the heat’s not ALL bad. More pool time. More chances to sweat out one-too-many dirty martinis on a nice little hike. More chances to enjoy a literal BUCKET of mussels on your porch with loved ones. Or just yourself if you really, REALLY love mussels.
Fun fact: Pictured here is five pounds of mussels. FIVE POUNDS. Thank you, Costco!
I was only cooking for one other person but, somehow, we managed to eat them all. Which – not to toot my own horn – prrrrooobably means these were damn delicious.
Or we were both starving.
Which on that note, I’d just like to say mussels are NOT something you want to serve a starving person. As delicious as they are, and quick to make to boot, you still have to pry those little suckers loose from there shells. Which is good for someone like me who tends to consume everything on my plate before you can say “Cracker Barrel Country Store,” but not so good for those who like to eat their steak in one bite.
Also, I love Cracker Barrel. Bless my little heart.
And honestly, the temps have been dropping (see: it doesn’t feel like a sauna) at night which is the perfect time to dump your mussels in your pot-o-flavor (see: bacon, wine, butter, leeks, shallots) for 5-ish minutes, then promptly toss them on a big ol’ platter and serve ’em up to your guests al fresco!
“Ohhhs” and “Ahhhs” are definitely to be expected before folks even get their hands on these babies because just look at ’em . . . they make the most stunning and impressive presentation!
Add a light, crisp salad and some grilled (or broiled) bread and – VOILA! – you’re practically Jacques Pepin!
Which, ladies, go google J-Pep as young man. Looks like he was a stud in and out of the kitchen if you know what I mean, wink-wink nudge-nudge.
A creamy aioli would be amazing here but I totally brain lapsed on that in the midst of wine-pouring and girl talk and, I’ll say, it wasn’t too terribly missed.
I’m working on putting together my Fall Bucket List. So far, it’s got all the usual suspects: support my Tigers with fellow LSU fans, frolic in a pumpkin patch, pie baking, hiking (maybe try my hand at camping?!), hoarding scarves, etc. But YOU should definitely add these mussels to your list.
I pinky promise that they are so much easier than what you are thinking and truly take no time at all to whip up. And, in case you didn’t catch it the other 37 times, they are so, so yummy and won’t leave you feeling like you need a nap.
Unless you dip an entire loaf of bread into the sauce. By yourself. But I would never judge. =)
STEAMED MUSSELS WITH SHALLOTS + LEEKS + BACON
Serves 2 hungry folks or 4 as a small plate.
- 2 pounds of mussels, rinsed and debearded*
- 2 (or 4 =)) slices of bacon, diced
- 2 TBS of unsalted butter
- 1 small leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
- 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
- 4 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup of white wine
- 1/3 cup of cream, or crème fraîche, optional
- 1 lemon
- 3 TBS minced parsley
- homemade mayonnaise or aioli, optional
- 1 loaf of crusty bread, sliced, drizzled with olive oil and grilled or broiled (Sourdough would be money here!)
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add bacon and saute until it starts crisp just a bit. Add leeks, shallots, and garlic. Season with black pepper and cook, stirring, until vegetables are very soft but not browned, about 10 minutes.
- Increase heat to high and add wine. Bring to a boil and let reduce a bit, about 2 minutes. Add mussels, cover, and cook 5-7 minutes, shaking pan occasionally until all mussels are opened. As soon as all the mussels are open, transfer mussels to a warm serving bowl using tongs or a slotted spoon, being sure not to take the pan goodness with you. Place pan lid over bowl to keep mussels warm.
- Once mussels are removed from saucepan, whisk in remaining 1 TBS of butter along with heavy cream or crème fraîche, if using. Add parsley, juice of 1/2 lemon and stir to combine
- Pour sauce over mussels, garnish with additional parsley, and serve immediately with mayonnaise or aioli, if using, crusty hunks of bread, and lemon wedges.
*Note: Wondering what the heck “debearding” means? Check out this handy-dandy post. My mussels were very clean and didn’t need more than a quick rinse.