Belgian Ale-Braised Mussels
Perfect for a light meal or tasty appetizer, mussels are easy to make and can be braised with a variety of liquid and seasoning combinations ranging from green coconut curry to saffron-tomato broth to the classic white wine. This recipe is adapted from the cookbook Steak with Friends: At Home With Rick Tramonto and uses a Belgian-style ale infused with shallots, garlic and fresh herbs. Our notes on the book follow the recipe.
- 4 lbs mussels
- 4 strips thick cut bacon, diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium shallots, very finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
- 2 cups Belgian-style ale (1-1/4 bottles)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
- 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 French baguette, sliced and lightly toasted
Rinse the mussels under cool running water, scrubbing the shells with a stiff brush if needed to remove any grit. Additionally, remove any "beards" (a bristly growth on the outside of the shell) you might find by giving them a sharp tug toward the hinged end of the mussel.
Note: If you've purchased farmed mussels, you probably won't find them to be particularly dirty, or run across too many beards.
Fry the bacon until crisp in a medium-sized stock pot. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and drain away all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.
Add the olive oil to the pan and turn the heat to medium. Add the shallots, garlic and thyme leaves and sauté until the mixture is soft and fragrant, 2 minutes (do not brown). Add the mussels and toss gently to coat with the oil-shallot mixture.
Increase the heat to medium-high, add the ale, cover, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Continue cooking until all of the mussels have opened, 7 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, quickly transfer the mussels to 4 individual serving bowls, discarding any that haven't opened.
Add the butter, tarragon, parsley and lemon juice to the broth in the pan. Season with salt and pepper and whisk until the butter melts. Pour the broth over the bowls of mussels and serve immediately with plenty of crusty bread and a green salad on the side.
Makes 4 main course or 6 to 8 appetizer servings
Steak With Friends: At Home, with Rick Tramonto
by Rick Tramonto with Mary Goodbody
Hardcover (304 pages ~ 150 recipes) | Find on Amazon
Rick Tramonto's Steak with Friends celebrates the versatility of a steak dinner, especially when enjoyed with friends and family.
Tramonto says that the book's name has two meanings: one being obvious, the other referring to all the side dishes that are traditional "friends" of steak (potato, salads, green beans, etc.).
Each of the recipes included in Steak with Friends can be viewed as a la carte, in that they can be mixed and matched to your preferences.
The book is divided into fairly typical chapters including cold and hot appetizers, salads, soups and sandwiches, fish and seafood, steak and beef classics, toppings, rubs and glazes, sauces, marinades, stocks and dressings, poultry, side dishes and desserts.
While Tramonto's take on classic beef dishes is fabulous, his less traditional recipes are deliciously unique and filled with innovative flavor combinations.
Here's more of what you'll find in Steak with Friends ~
- Pumpkin Soup with Foie Gras ~ a decadent twist on a classic fall soup
- Tempura Soft-Shell Crab Sandwiches ~ soft buns filled with crunchy soft-shell crab and Asian cabbage slaw
- Grilled Lemongrass Duck with Turnips and Prunes ~ an East-meets-West blending of flavors and textures
- Vertical Banana Splits ~ homemade peanut butter ice cream, bananas and chocolate sauce in a tall glass