It’s always surprising to me how easy, inexpensive, and delicious it is to make mussels at home. They seem like one of those things that you should just go out and order in a restaurant but in reality we’ve found that we can prepare better mussels at home and they take about 30 minutes to make. Nathan and I both love mussels…maybe because they lend themselves so well to being prepared in either wine or beer and thus epitomize the spirit of Rampant Cuisine? We’ve posted mussels once before on the blog and they were prepared in a Saison sauce. This time we decided to go the white wine route and we prepared the mussels in Sauvignon Blanc, basil, tomatoes, and tons of garlic and shallots…a light, super flavorful and perfect dish to celebrate this amazing Spring weather we’ve been having! Note: Make sure you find fresh, high quality mussels…we had to go to a specialty fish store for ours because nobody wants to get sick from tasty mussels! Enjoy!
Katryn’s Wine Pairing: Leyda Sauvignon Blanc, 2013
Wine Rating: 8.5 out of 10.0
Pairing Rating: 8.0 out of 10.0
Honestly this was a pretty easy pairing…a nice herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc was an obvious choice. This wine totally fit the bill…it’s crisp and juicy with notes of citrus (lime) and fruit (green apple and grapefruit). It also had a faint mineral texture that worked well with the natural “brininess” of the mussels. When I tasted it alone without the mussels I thought the tartness of the wine would be too much for the mussels but it actually ended up balancing the savory mussel sauce perfectly. I highly recommend this wine if you like fresh and tart whites!
Nathan’s Beer Pairing: Duchess De Bourgogne
Beer Rating: 8.75 out of 10.0
Pairing Rating: 1.0 out of 10.0
This is one of those instances where I absolutely failed at picking a good pairing for the meal that we made… While perusing the beer section in a wine and beer store we hadn’t been to before this beer caught my eye. I knew that I wanted something like a Belgian saison or golden ale for the mussels and I saw that Duchess De Bourgogne was Belgian. I quickly looked up the rating on Beer Advocate and RateBeer and saw that it was rated at 93% and 98%! I was too excited by the rating and I failed to check what kind of Belgian beer that it actually was. Turns out it is a Sour Red Ale and was pretty much the opposite of the type of beer that you would want to have with mussels in a white wine sauce. As the style suggests, this beer hits your mouth with a sour almost vinegary flavor reminiscent of a sparkling white wine with moderate cherry flavors and effervescent carbonation. It was undrinkable with the mussels so I saved the rest of the bottle for Sunday morning when Katryn made us some French toast and the beer was absolutely phenomenal with the French toast and completely turned around my opinion of the beer. Lesson learned… This has also made us realize that we should start giving each beer and wine two ratings: one for the beverage itself and one for the rating instead of combining the two into one rating like we have been doing. This will allow me to give the beer a good rating while giving the pairing a terrible one (because I am stupid).
Mussels in a White Wine Garlic Sauce
Serves 2, modified from this recipe.
2 pounds mussels
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 cup chopped shallots
3 tablespoons minced garlic (5 to 6 cloves)
1/2 cup chopped canned plum tomatoes, drained (4 ounces)
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup good white wine
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. To clean the mussels, put them in a large bowl with 2 quarts of water and the flour and soak for 30 minutes, or until the mussels disgorge any sand. Drain the mussels, then remove the “beard” from each with your fingers. Scrub the mussels with a brush under running water. Throw away any mussels whose shells aren’t tightly shut.
2. In a large non-aluminum stockpot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes; then add the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes, or until the shallots are translucent. Add the tomatoes, basil, wine, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil.
3. Add the mussels, stir well, then cover the pot, and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until all the mussels are opened (discard any that do not open). With the lid on, shake the pot once or twice to be sure the mussels don’t burn on the bottom. Pour the mussels and the sauce into a large bowl and serve hot.