Shortly after Jill and I started this little venture, I got an email from my uncle. “Hi Maya,” it said. “Please see my recipe below and photographs attached. I hope I can make it onto your blog.” I scrolled down, skimmed through his notes and pictures, and wrote back, promising I’d try it out soon. I think my exact words were “stay tuned.”
Well, folks, that was back in March, and I’m proud to report that I’ve finally, finally gotten around to keeping my word.
Let me be perfectly frank: If you wait six months to try these mussels, you’re as much of an idiot as I am. They could truly be, as my uncle proclaims, fit for the king of Brussels.
They’re a cinch to cook as well. Sauté an onion and a head of garlic, add broth, tomatoes, and spices and simmer for a few minutes, dump in the mussels, cover the pot, and less than fifteen minutes later, voilà! Dinner.
I was out of the required basil so omitted that, and I like my dishes strongly flavored so used a heaping teaspoon of curry powder instead of a normal one. My uncle suggests additional salt “if you’re a salt freak” and hot sauce “if you like things spicy,” but I wouldn’t recommend any adjustments in that area. Though I hesitate to use the word “perfection,” this broth is pretty darn close: I couldn’t stop spooning it up straight from the pot, burned tongue notwithstanding. I did change the original recipe’s methodology a tiny bit—I would’ve saved a few minutes by frying the onions and garlic in a separate pan, but I’d rather spend my time sipping a celebratory glass of sparkling wine than washing twice the dishes and proceeded accordingly.
Oh yes, a celebratory glass. Not that I need an excuse to go for the bubbly, but this was a special-occasion meal: our (seventh!) anniversary. For under $25, we had a cozy little dinner, both heart- and belly-warming, in the comfort of our own kitchen, with enough cash left over for an extra bottle of prosecco.
Low-key, easy, and—dare I say it?—just about perfect.
Dr. Craig’s Mussels Fit for the King of Brussels
A note from the doctor himself: This is my favorite recipe for mussels. It’s enough to feed three to seven people, depending on whether it’ll be the main course—I like it on pasta, crowned with the mussels—or an appetizer. The “soup” that’s leftover, I freeze and save for the next mussel-cooking day, but remember to freeze quickly and defrost quickly to keep it fresh. I usually use the sauce 3 times, adding spices as needed.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 head garlic, minced
28 ounces chicken broth
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
16 ounces tomato sauce
10 ounces canned diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon curry powder
5 pounds mussels, individually washed, broken or opened mussels discarded
1 lemon, halved
1. In a large 6-8 quart pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Gently sauté onion and garlic until translucent.
2. Add chicken broth, salt, hot sauce, Worcestershire, vinegar, tomato sauce, tomatoes and spices; bring to a boil.
3. Let boil for 5-10 minutes, then add mussels and cover pot. Stir every 3-5 minutes to ensure that mussels at the top circulate to the bottom. Cook for 12 minutes, or until mussels open.
4. Squeeze lemon over mussels, stir again, and serve on a bed of pasta (using broth as sauce) or alone as appetizer.