November 23, 2009

White wine mussels and pasta

Yesterday was fantastic. I finally had a day to myself in the house! I woke up with a touch of bronchitis like coughing, thanks to the massive amounts of black mold in our house. We are currently in the process of getting the hockey team to either fix it or move us, as we are all starting to get more and more sick. Ok enough about our mold problem. So we were supposed to go to EATaly yesterday with the roomies, but I didn`t feel up to it. EATaly is this market in Italy were lots of locals bring their goodies like cheese, meats, wines, etc. Obviously I did want to go since I haven't had a thin sliced piece of decent prosciutto since I have been here, but I just didn't think I could handle the bustle and hustle of the Italians when I was feeling a bit under the weather. FP and I opted to stay home.

That morning we bundled up in rain gear to walk the half mile to the store to get some fresh mussels for dinner. The fish guy comes to Briancon every Saturday and Sunday. Well no, he really isn't the fish guy. He is more like the shellfish guy. He brings buckets of oysters, sea urchins, clams, shrimps, and mussels. After buying over a kilo of mussels, we set off towards home and debated exactly how to cook our treasure from the sea.

I spent the afternoon in pure excitement for dinner. After eating lot's of mussels on our trip to Italy, I knew just how good they could be when paired with pasta. Dinner was fabulous and the sauce turned out absolutely perfect. Before we commenced making dinner, I googled the recipe for white wine mussels over pasta. Of course I was flooded with links after clicking search. However, I decided on two and tweaked them to my liking. I also have to honest and say that neither FP or myself have cooked a batch of mussels. Therefore, we were confused as to what was a good mussel, what was a bad mussel, and why are some of them opening?????? After doing some research I was informed how to figure out which mussels to discard and which mussels to keep. So I set to work. At first I was amazed at how dirty these little black guys were! Then I started to resent them for being dirty because it took me a good half hour to get all their ``beards`` off! I also came across more than a few open mussels that were apparently saying ciao! I started a pile in the sink and frequently checked on those little guys to see if they had closed at all. It turns out most of them were still good! After checking and rechecking my mussels, they were ready to get steamed in the pot. Before I steamed them FP and I had the discussion about killing things in hot water, ie lobsters. We also discussed how they make a bit of a sound when they are dying. This kind of freaked me out and made me a little weary to put my live mussels in the pot! But I couldn't see them moving, so it made it a lot easier. However, I am not joking there were a couple mussels that sound like they were squealing in there!!! I had to just grit my teeth and think only of the final product! But everything turned out wonderfully and we had not one mussel that did not open! Obviously the shell fish guy does his job well!

White Wine Mussels

-2-3 lbs mussels (washed and scrubbed)
-3 cloves garlic minced
-1 shallot finely chopped
-touch of cayenne pepper
-2 dried bay leaves
-2 cups dry white wine
-2 T butter
-2 T olive oil
-salt and pepper to taste
-Gf spaghetti or linguine

Scrub Mussels very thoroughly removing any dirt, ``hair``, and other items stuck to the shell. Scrub with either a scrub brush or new sponge. Discard any mussels that appear to have stayed open during the whole cleaning process. Also discard any mussels that have a broken shell. In a deep pot saute garlic in olive oil for about 4-5 min. Add wine and butter, bring to a boil. Start to cook your pasta in another pot as well. Add to wine sauce bay leaves, touch of cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Then add mussels. Stir mussels into the sauce and try to coat all of them. Cover pot and let mussels cook for 5 min. Remove lid after 5 min and stir mussels again, coating them in sauce. After another 5 min. check to see if all mussels have opened. It will take between 10-15 min. for mussels to all cook. Remove any that have remained closed, they are bad. Pour over cooked pasta and bouon appetito!

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