I have been craving steamed mussels for a few weeks now. The culprit was a visit to our favorite gastropub a month or two ago, where we shared steamed mussels with sliced chorizo sausage and had a few local craft beers. It was a good night. I love seafood, but don’t get a chance to eat it as much as I’d like here in the Upper Midwest. A week later, as if to taunt me, the most recent issue of ‘Fine Cooking’ had a steamed-mussel recipe that looked similar to what I’d recently loved while out on the town. Then I saw another variation on this theme on her blog. Obviously this was a sign, so I headed down to Coastal Seafoods to buy some shellfish.
No, this is not a “local” dish. I wish it were. But fresh walleye is about as close to local seafood as I’m going to get in Minnesota, and this dish definitely won’t work with fish. Now, back to the mussels. I can’t believe I don’t make these more often! They turn an ordinary middle-of-the-week dinner into an exciting and new meal. Did I mention that they’re incredibly easy to make? That they taste amazing? That they’re relatively inexpensive? How about this: the whole process– start to finish– takes less than 30 minutes.
The mussels flavor is best described as a “briny goodness.” The chorizo adds a little spice and contrasting texture. I chose ground chorizo specifically because of this textural variation– and because we have a local (Yay!) brand that competes for the best I’ve ever tasted. You can certainly use a Spanish-style, rather than ground, chorizo if you’d like. Just slice it up 3/8 -inch thick. The ramps (see here for a discussion on ramps), garlic, and smoked paprika combine nicely with the chorizo. The dish is completed with a a small amount of white wine. I made this with a Spanish Albariño– it’ll never lead you astray when matching with seafood. The dish tastes spicy and divine. Serve it with the garlicky croutons, pour a glass of that delicious wine, and settle in on the patio for the night.
The Recipe: Steamed Mussels with Chorizo, Ramps, and Smoked Paprika
Serves 2, generously
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, 2 minced and 2 thinly sliced
1/2 bunch of ramps, chopped (white and green parts, only)
1 cup dry white wine, an Albariño worked nicely (though I’m intrigued by how a minerally wine, like a Sancerre or even Chablis would change the flavor)
1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1/2 pound ground chorizo
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 sprigs fresh)
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 baguette, cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch slices
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Microgreens (for garnish, optional)
Combine the olive oil and the 2 cloves of minced garlic in a small bowl and set aside.
Position an oven rack about 4 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler on high.
In a 6-quart Dutch oven, brown the chorizo until fully cooked. There should be a bit of oil leftover from the chorizo in the pan, if not add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and ramps and saute along with the chorizo for just a few minutes, until soft. Add the smoked paprika and cook for 30 seconds longer. Add the wine and thyme and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Stir in the mussels, coating them with the sauce mixture. Cover and cook, stirring 2 or 3 times, until the mussels have opened, 8 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and brush them with the garlic oil, dividing the bits of garlic evenly among the slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then broil, rotating the baking sheet as needed, until evenly browned and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Make as many as you like.
Discard any mussels that have not opened. Serve the mussels with the sauce, croutons, and microgreens. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine
Make sure to come out and support the National Food Blogger Bake Sale on Saturday. Proceeds to support Share Our Strength. Our local gathering in Minneapolis/ St. Paul is at the Midtown Global Market –920 East Lake St. Minneapolis. The hours are 11:00am – 4:00 pm. Check to see if your city is having one.
Thanks again for stopping by– I appreciate all of your kind comments. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
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