Mussels are a type of shellfish. I prepared these Canadian Farmed variety before Christmas and am finally just getting to posting the recipe. I found them dirt cheap at Costco. Although I typically try to stay away from “farmed” fish, Mussel farming is, by definition, green and sustainable. Mussels cannot tolerate the discharge of sewage or other toxins; the presence of mussel farming, therefore, often results in increased awareness and monitoring of coastal waters. In addition to being important modulators of nutrient cycles in ecological systems, farmed mussels help to reduce greenhouse gases by removing carbon dioxide from the ocean for shell formation. Mussel farming is endorsed by environmental groups such as the Audubon Society, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and Eco-Fish.
If you’re not familiar, Mussel is the common name used for members of several families of clams or bivalve molluscs, from saltwater and freshwater habitats. In Eastern Canada, the primary mussel species farmed is the Blue mussel (Mytilus edulis).
This is one of those dishes that surprisingly Bill loves and I hadn’t had a lot of experience with until recent years. They really are an acquired taste for some but overall, this seafood is a very mild and delicous and an incredibly nutrient-dense seafood choice. They are low in calories and fat, but rich in protein and are high in many micronutrients, or vitamins and minerals. We only used half a bag per meal, so either gather friends or take note on how to keep them a live for a few days in the refrigerator.
1 Onion, chopped
1 Celery stalk , chopped
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 to 3 pounds Mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 14.5 oz. can Diced Tomatoes (I prefer Fire Roasted)
1 Cup Clam Juice or Chicken Stock (I prefer Reese clam juice)
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1 “pinch” Saffron
2 – 4 Tablespoons White Wine
2 – 4 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley Leaves, chopped
Salt and Black Pepper, freshly ground
When shopping for mussels, look for ones that are closed. When you get them home, store them in a large colander sat in a bowl with a few ice cubes on top for a couple days. Be sure to discard any mussels with broken shells or whose shell remains open after you tap it.
To clean, place the mussels in a bowl of cool water and hold each one under running water. Use a brush to remove any barnacles and pull off any black fibrous “beards”. (Some mussels may not have a beard.) Mussels should be “debearded” no more than a half an hour before cooking. Keep cool until you are ready to use them.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook stirring often, until they soften and just start to turn brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Meanwhile, soak your saffron threads in hot liquid for 15 minutes or so because it needs moisture to release its flavor. You will later add both the saffron and the liquid to the recipe. As the saffron soaks, you’ll notice the distinctive aroma indicating that it’s ready. I like to soak the saffron in wine (rather than water) to add to the overall flavor of a dish.
Add the clam juice, wine and saffron, and salt and pepper, to taste.
Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil over high heat.
Add the mussels and give it a good stir, cover the pot, and cook steaming until all the mussels open, about five to ten minutes. Shake the pot from time to time holding down the lid to move the mussels around.
Discard any mussels that do not open.
Stir in cream and sprinkle with parsley and serve with crusty bread and the sauce from the pan.
The clams will be tender and the sauce is rich and delicious!
Be sure to set an empty bowl for the shells!
These paired perfectly with one of my favorites: a 2010 Chardonnay by Cosentino!