Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Smoky Spicy Mussels

Spicy Smoky Mussels

Do you guys keep animal fat in your fridge? I have three kinds. Chicken fat leftover from roasting, duck fat leftover from my CSCA final and bacon fat. We only have bacon in this house once or twice a year, but I always save the fat in a jar for later use (few things improve the humble potato like smoky, salty pork fat).

Secret Weapon

So when I realized we were half way through November (the THIRD month-with-an-R!) and I hadn't made mussels yet, I turned immediately to bacon fat. And to bump the smokiness and add some heat, also hot smoked paprika. If I were to make this again, I'd probably add a little more heat, maybe with a pinch of red pepper flakes, but the slight kick was still pretty delicious.

La Chinata

Smoky Spicy Mussels
serves 2-3

Don't forget the rule about mussels: throw them away if they're cracked or don't close when you tap them. Once they're cooked, throw them away if they DON'T open. 

2 1/2 lbs mussels
2-3 tablespoons bacon fat
1 onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, sliced
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup cream
3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Scrub the mussels well and remove any beards that might be hanging out of the shells. Set aside (in an uncovered bowl in the fridge, if you've still got prep to do).

Heat a pot with a tight fitting lid, large enough to hold all the mussels, over medium heat. Melt the bacon fat and add the onion, then cook until the onion is translucent, 5-10 minutes depending on how high the heat is. It's ok if it browns a little bit. Add the garlic, season with a hearty pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper, and cook until it smells really good, probably not more than a minute or two.

Add the hot smoked paprika and stir for about 30 seconds, then add the wine. Bring to a high simmer, then add the mussels and put on the lid. After 2-3 minutes, shake the pot, or remove the lid and stir the mussels once, then put the lid back on. It should take about 5 minutes (or maybe a little more) for all the mussels to open up. Once they're all open, remove the mussels to a serving bowl and add the cream and parsley to the broth in the pot. Bring to a simmer, taste for seasoning (mine needed more salt) then pour over the mussels. You can also add the mussels back in and serve from the pot. Either way, make sure you have some bread on hand for soaking up all the delicious broth.

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