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Recipe: Steamed mussels and shrimp with white wine and Dijon

Time for a little confession that I think every attached woman can relate to, even just a little bit. Ready for this one?

I secretly love it when Joe is gone from the house.

Now, we’re not talking about extended periods of time here. I would miss him too much. What I’m talking about are work dinners, one to two days of out of town business, or simply a boys night out. I relish those days and nights every few weeks where I get the house to myself, can watch girly reality TV (The Rachel Zoe Project, anyone?), and take a long bubble bath, with no obligation to anyone else. Of course, I’m always glad when lover boy comes home, but you know how it is. One of the best parts of having the house and the day to myself is planning what delicious vittles I’ll cook up — ones that I normally never make, since there’s no usually convincing him to partake.

One such dish, which I made this last Saturday afternoon (Joe was out all day at a football game with some friends) is steamed mussels. I LOVE steamed mussels; in fact, I love steamed shellfish of any kind. Though mussels and clams are very affordable, there’s something luxurious about eating a big bowl of fragrant, briny shellfish, and using some crusty bread to mop up the steaming liquid. Wash it all down with a crisp white wine, and it’s pretty much my idea of the perfect meal. Joe has a weird thing about his hands getting messy when he eats (if you know him well, you’ll realize that any time he eats a sandwich, he washes his hands immediately after), so hands-on shellfish eating is not really his thing.

So of course I jumped at the chance to cook up a pot of bi-valves on Saturday.

mussels steamed in white wine

When I got to the store, they were nearly out of mussels, so I supplemented the dish with some large shrimp to ensure I’d have enough to make a good meal. When making steamed shellfish, you could use any combination of clams, shrimp or mussels you like. If you’re entertaining with steamed shellfish, try different varieties to make the final bowl look extra pretty — New Zealand green mussels, for instance, have a beautiful emerald green lip on their shells.

While you steam the shellfish, you can toast some baguette, rub it down with some garlic, and drizzle it with olive oil. It’s perfection in less than 20 minutes. Here’s the recipe:

White wine steamed mussels and shrimp with Dijon

Serves one hungry girl, two people for an appetizer (especially if paired with a little salad)

  • 1/2 lb medium or large wild shrimp, shells on
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, finely diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp good quality Dijon mustard (I like Maille)
  • 3/4 cup (about a quarter bottle) dry white wine (I used a sauvignon blanc)
  • 2 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • several sprigs of thyme
  • 1.5 lbs PEI mussels, scrubbed and de-beareded (A little note on mussels: I like to order a pound and a half to account for any little mussels that won’t open. Also, when using mussels, only cook the ones that are firmly closed. If you see any that are questionable, with their shells just barely open, give them a rinse in cold water and a hard tap on the counter. If they close up within a minute or two, they’re still alive and can be cooked. Note that New Zealand green lipped mussels will often be partially open when they’re still very much alive, so the tapping trick won’t work with them!)
  • few sprigs of parsley
  • –kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash the shrimp well and remove their legs without ripping off the rest of the shell. Using sharp kitchen shears, cut down the back of the shrimp to remove the vein. If you do this under cool, gently running water, it’s easy to rinse the vein right out of the shrimp. I like to leave the shells on the shrimp because I think it adds good flavor to the cooking liquid, which I sop up with bread. If it’s easier for you to cook the shrimp without shells, no problem.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Saute the shallot and garlic until fragrant and just turning golden brown. Stir in the mustard and allow to cook and sizzle for about ten seconds. Pour in the white wine and stir. Pour in the homemade chicken stock, add in the sugar and thyme, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add in the mussels, cover, and cook for about two minutes. Next, add in the shrimp and the parsley, season well, then cover again, and continue cooking for another 5-6 minutes, or until most of the mussels have opened up.

Remove the shrimp and shellfish to a large bowl. Discard any of the mussels that did not open up. Reduce the cooking liquid for a minute or two, then pour over the seafood. Garnish with a few more fresh sprigs of parsley, then serve with crusty bread and a glass of wine.

mussels served with baguette

One Response

  1. this is one of my favorite meals ever, too. and andy can’t stand mussels. what’s wrong with them?

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