Mussel Mania

Last night I met some friends at Print Works Bistro in Greensboro. Chef Leigh Hesling prepares the menu there. He prides himself on locally sourcing his products, which in turn provides the diner with an even better experience. I took one of his cooking classes two years ago and was impressed with his skill and personality, as well as his commitment to the environment. On Wednesday nights the restaurant provides live entertainment, 10-15 dollar wine options and a large plate of Mussels for 15 dollars. Guess what I ordered? Yep…the mussels and they were delicious. I rarely cook mussels at home since it requires having a safe source, but when I find such a source, I make a similar version to the ones I had last night. It’s a basic french version in a white wine sauce. If you are attempting to make these yourself, let me provide you with a few tips.
1-always make sure that your mussels are coming from a reliable source.
2-Discard any mussels with an open shell-they should be tightly closed.
3-If they have not been cleaned properly before-soak them in a half gallon of water with one third of a cup of flour. This will help draw out the sand in them.
4-Scrub the outside of the shells with a brush. I use a cheap dollar store toothbrush for this. After they have been soaked it is really easy to remove any beards on the outside with your fingers.

Ingredients- for 2 servings (perfect date night food)
*3 pounds mussels-cleaned
*3 tbsp. unsalted butter
*3 tbsp. olive oil
*2 tbsp. minced garlic
*1 tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes
*1 cup Chardonnay
*3/4 cup crushed tomatoes
*1/4 cup chopped parsley

Use a large stock pot to saute the garlic in the olive oil and butter for about 2 minutes over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, parsley, red pepper flakes and Chardonnay to the pot and bring to a boil.
Add in your cleaned mussels to the pot and stir once. Cover with lid for about ten minutes over medium heat. All of the mussels should be open at this point. Discard any that refuse to open. Serve immediately in a nice bowl with crusty bread and a good white wine.
Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris would be nice. I hope you enjoy!

If you are in the Piedmont area of North Carolina, check out Print Works Bistro in Greensboro on Wednesday nights for their mussels!
http://www.printworksbistro.com/

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