Without doubt the mighty mussel is the best thing, in my opinion to come out of the ocean…along with crab, lobster, clams and sea bass 🙂 I normally try not to faff about too much with food that can stand on its own two feet but on occasion I do dig going a bit ‘Christmas tree’ on things – this is one of those times.
This is a fiery little dish, crispy, creamy and delightfully decadent – the addition of skinny home-made fries is an absolute must by the way!!
WHAT YOU NEED -Serves 2
Fresh mussels – 1 1/2 kilos
150 grams bread crumbs
Fat bunch flat leaf parsley
100 grams grated Pecorino cheese
Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon of cayenne ( I like the heat)
1/2 medium red onion
HOW YOU DO IT:
Step1: Kick things off by prepping up the mussels – there are two stages to this, first ‘rip’ off their beards. You can’t miss these, the mussel uses them to cling to the rocks or ropes. They pull away with a quick tug.
Step2: Next scrub the mussels under cold running water, get rid of any sea debris and barnacles. At this stage any mussels that don’t close up tight you need to get rid of – they are dead. To make sure tap the open mussel with the back of a knife and if does not react and close tight then bin it.
Step3: Because this is not the end cooking point I’m just steaming these open – this is not a mariniere so there is no need for garlic, wine, etc,etc. Sling the mussels into a pot with about 50 mls of water just to get things going. Put on the lid and steam the mussels for about 4-6 minutes shaking the pot regularly (This might take a less time depending on how accommodating your mussels are)
Step4: When they begin to open and you can see the orange coloured flesh clearly they are done – get them out and away from the heat. Another important point here – any mussels that have not opened or any you have to force open are dead – sling them in the bin
Step5: Open all the mussels and separate meat from shell. Keep half the shells and place 2-3 mussels on the half shell, I use sea salt on a baking tray to keep them steady and up right.
Step6: To make the stuffing – run the knife through the onion, parsley – zest the lemon and grate the cheese
Step7: In a pan saute the onion until just soft in about 100 grams of butter (or olive oil if you prefer)
Step8: To make the stuffing simply combine parsley, cheese, cayenne, onion and lemon with the bread crumbs – season to taste, you want this punchy.
Step9: To stuff the mussels spoon a small amount of the stuffing directly onto the half shell and press it down to form what looks like a little mound.
Step10: Sling these beauties under a screaming hot grill for about 4-6 minutes or until they are golden crisp brown – watch like a hawk!!
The best thing to serve these with is a mountain of skinny homemade fries and a buzzy white wine