I have been thinking a lot about mussels lately. I don’t cook with them that often, but I do like using them in a fish soup that I make with saffron and fennel. I love that soup. But my kids seem to alternated between liking it and not liking it. Although my last attempt was greatly rewarded when they both decided to try the mussels. And then they promply devoured all that were in the soup, declaring “we looove mussels!” OK, wow. This made me want to create a new dish using mussels. So I thought about it for a while and came up with a few ideas.
One idea was linked back to my waitressing days. I recalled chefs often pairing chorizo with shellfish, which I always though was a fabulous combination. There is also the classic moules marinière recipe that also came to mind, so working with that and keeping in mind the fennel option from the fish soup, this is the recipe that I came up with.
In this dish, the wonderful taste of chorizo is accentuated by sauteeing the chorizo with its signature flavor, smoked paprika or pimenton. I served it up with frites, Belgian style, but it could go equally well with some good crusty bread. A wonderfully festive Friday night dinner. And the kids loved it, at least this time.
Serves 4 as a main
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 very large or 2 medium sized shallots
- 1/2 a large fennel (or one whole small fennel)
- 100 gr dry cured (ideally Spanish style) chorizo
- 1 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika (pimenton)
- 2 tomatoes (blanched and peeled)
- 1 cup white wine
- a pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup lightly packed chopped parsley
- 4lbs of mussels
First you will need to clean the mussels. To do so, rinse and rub them under cold water and remove all scraggles that might be coming out from the interiors of the mussels. This is call debearding the mussels. If any of the mussels are open, give them a knock. If they don’t close up, discard them. The opposite will also be true once they are cooked. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened while cooking. Put all the clean mussels in a large bowl and keep them in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
To prep your tomatoes, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Cut an X on the bottom of the tomatoes and put them in the boiling water for a minute. Carefully remove them from the boiling water with kitchen tongs and let them cool until easy to handle. Then peel off the skins. Remove the cores, coarsely chop, and set aside.
Melt the butter over medium low in a large pot that will fit all the mussels. Thinly slice your shallots and coarsely chop the fennel. Add them to your pot and sauté gently for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle on your smoked paprika and add the chorizo, then sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, white wine, salt and parsley and simmer for about 5 minutes. Now, all that is left to do is cook the mussels. You can pause here and either turn off the burner until you are ready to cook the mussels or continue by turning the burner to high until a boil is reached and adding the mussels. Once they are in the pot, cover and cook on high, shaking the pot from time to time, for 7 minutes. The mussels will open and release their lovely brine, which mixes with the other ingredients to produce a fabulous broth. Ladle the mussles into bowls with broth. Bon appétit!