Mussels are available on many restaurant menus, but they’re extremely easy to prepare at home. My family happens to love them, so I usually simmer them Italian-style in a marinara sauce with a little white wine, but this week I’m taking them in another direction – cooked in a combination of bacon, jalapenos and wine.
The recipe starts by building a flavor base of sauteed chopped onion, bacon and jalapeno. Then you add the liquids – white wine, chicken stock and a little whipping cream.
Mussel preparation is important to the dish. First, always buy your mussels the day you plan to cook them. Most fish counters carry them, and it is best for them to be packed on ice with the bag left open so the mussels can breathe. (They are alive.) At home, soak them in a bowl of water, drain them and remove the beard. I use a paper towel to help grab the beard and then scrub them a little bit under running water.
After you’ve de-bearded the mussels, you will want to discard any that do not close when you pinch them lightly. They are dead, and you don’t want to consume them. After the mussels are cooked, don’t consume any that didn’t open. A pot full of mussels will take 8-10 minutes to steam open.
When you’re ready to serve your mussels, make sure you have plenty of crusty bread for dipping into the delicious sauce.
BACON, JALAPENO AND LIME MUSSELS
3 pounds mussels
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 slices bacon, chopped
1small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
½ cup dry white wine or beer
1 cup chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1/3 cup whipping cream
¼ cup fresh lime juice, about the juice of 2 limes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 ripe Roma tomatoes, diced
1 cup chopped green onions
To clean the mussels, put them into a large bowl with 2 quarts of water and soak for 30 minutes, or until the mussels release any sand. Drain the mussels and then remove the beard with your fingers. Scrub the mussels with a brush under running water. Discard any mussels that aren’t tightly shut. Set aside in a colander to drain.
Heat a Dutch oven or other large pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add onions, bacon and jalapeno and saute until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add wine and cook for 1 minute.
Add stock and cream and simmer for 5 minutes, until reduced slightly. Stir in lime juice. Season to taste with black pepper. Add the mussels and tomatoes. Cover and simmer over medium heat until mussels open, about 8-10 minutes.
Transfer to serving dish, discarding any mussels that didn’t open during cooking. Sprinkle chopped green onions over and serve.
Makes 3-4 servings.