Saturday, June 20, 2009
Mussels are almost a religion in my family. I've been eating them for as long as I can remember. When I was in Brussels for 1 day 10 years ago (I can't believe it's been that long) I knew I had to get mussels and frites. Any time I am at a French bistro it takes all I have to not always order mussels and frites, as they are on any decent bistro's menu.
Last Friday the boy and I went to Tati Bistro and adorable French Bistro in the West End of Toronto, that a friend of his owns. They had mussels & frites on the menu and I surprisingly resisted and had a fabulous meal of beef carpaccio and black cod. As we loved the place I'm sure I will be back to sit at the bar, eat mussels and frites with a delicious glass of the Chateau d'Angeles rose. Seriously check out Tati if you are in Toronto, the boy's steak frites were amazing, the cheese selection is wonderful and they wine list is solid.
I've now completely gotten of topic. Mussels. I love them. Since I opted not to have them on friday night, I decided to make them at home. What I realized in buying them is that here in Toronto, lovely PEI (that's Prince Edward's island for those not in the know) Mussels are surprisingly inexpensive. We got a bag for $4.99! I think we'll be eating more mussels this summer. IN another twist of fate, it turned out that the Food Network had an episode of Bobby Flay's Throwdown focusing on mussels and frites. I only caught bits and pieces of the episode but I did see that the hometown favorite and, of course, winner used blue cheese on his mussels. We had blue cheese in the fridge so I decided to incorporate it into the recipe I had come up with
Mussels with White Wine Fennel Sauce & Blue Cheese
3/4 cup chicken stock - it all I had but I'm sure a fish stock would be lovely here too
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 large fennel bulb - sliced
1 Tbsp fennel fronds
1 shallot roughly chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 lbs mussels
175g blue cheese
salt & pepper
1. Go through mussels and remove nay that have cracked shells or are open and don't close when tapped. Remove the beard, the stingy part that sticks out of the shell and then let the mussels sit on cold water for a 5 minutes, stirring everyone in awhile to help get rid of any sand. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and then place in a colander and rinse one more time with cold water.
2. In a large saute pan (one that can comfortably accommodate the mussels) heat olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add in the chopped shallots and cook until translucent. Add in sliced fennel saute for 2 minutes or until just begin to soften.
3. Add chicken stock and simmer for approximately 3 minutes. Remove saute pan from heat and add white wine. Return to heat and let simmer for 3-5 more minutes, until most of the alcohol has burned off.
4. Whisk in remaining 2 Tbsp of butter, salt & pepper and then add in fennel fronds and mussels, cover and steam until all the mussels have opened, another 3-5 minutes.
5. Turn off heat, remove lid from pan, discard any mussels that haven't opened and sprinkle blue cheese crumbles all over mussels. Serve in a large bowl with lots of broth and nice crusty bread.
This was a perfectly easy dinner that is packed with flavor and I loved the way the blue cheese crumbles tasted melted on the mussels and in the broth. It was a really interesting and delicious combination. The fennel added great depth to the sauce and was beautifully tender. I can't wait to make this one again.
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