It's simply a case of not knowing what I didn't know. I didn't realize I was a culinary neophyte until I started this blog and cooking with French Fridays with Dorie nearly one year ago. I now realize there is nothing I won't try. (Okay maybe those giant pupae some weird people eat on TV.)
MUSSELS AND CHORIZO WITH OR WITHOUT PASTA. Woohoo! I think.
Right from the beginning I felt a little "in over my head". Ha. Where do I buy good mussels? What is this "debearded if necessary"? While I ponder life's most important questions I go to Costco. Doesn't everyone? (Trumpets blare) On this magical day the fresh shellfish kiosk is in full gear. Amongst the crab legs and giant prawns there are 5 lb bags of mussels! (Our recipe calls for 4 lbs.) Well, let's face it, Costco has never steered me wrong. In fact if I'm not careful my closet and my home would look like they'd been staged for a Costco catalogue.
Me and my 5 pounds of mussels head for home to Google what the heck "debearded" means. Please understand, landlocked is my life. Born and raised in the Southwest desert, I never left it. Eating mussels sounded like something other people did. Like other people who have boats that sail on the ocean, not just a lake. As I related my story to my boss the next day- he from southeastern Virginia- the laughter and mocking reminded me of my newbie status. Sure enough, some of my Costco mussels had beards. If I hadn't looked it up I would have guessed the nylon-like fuzzy threads were a result of the mechanisms used to gather the little creatures from the ocean floor. (Stop laughing!) Can't say I was overjoyed to learn they are weird anatomical features of the mussels. Okay, I'm not going to spend much time thinking about that. Grab the beard with a dry towel and yank it off. Voila! No shaving cream required. Then there's the issue of the shells being open or closed. Uh... Also found out that tapping them on the countertop should make them close in a minute or so. At which point hubby says, "You mean they're ALIVE??" Uh... Again, let's not spend much time thinking about that. Tapping worked for several of them. Not others. Into the trash they went. Followed the other pointers explained on the Googled website. Have to say, this whole process is not worse than "deveining" shrimp. 'Cause we all know that's not a vein.
Once the cleaning of the food is done the recipe comes together quickly, smells amazing and looks beautiful.
Olive oil is heated; red bell pepper, onion, garlic and thyme are added with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Drained, diced tomatoes and chorizo are added. Mussels are added to the pot, as is some white wine.
Give the pot a stir, cover and cook for about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and be patient. The shells should all be open. Serve immediately with cooked fettuccine or lots of bread. We chose the pasta.
Reviews for this meal are not 100% stellar. Hubby not a big fan of dissecting his food and was not so impressed with eating the little fellers. I thought the whole dish very tasty. I did offer The Virginian a sample the next day. He asked for the recipe! I know I'll be trying mussels again, but maybe when I'm in the company of the more adventurous, salt-water friendly types.
I am forever grateful for my fellow Doristas, Dorie, and her wonderful cookbooks! Check them out at www.frenchfridayswithdorie.com.