Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pasta with Mussels in White wine

I had a craving for Mussels last night.  Searching through my local grocer was no laughing matter.  Sad to see all the frozen, over processed, ready made items, lined up like little soldiers.  I was determined to make this happen.  I found lovely boxes of Mussels.  Looking all over the box for the country of Origin, I thought I should have brought along a magnifying glass.  There it was,  in the tiniest of writing, "Product of New Zealand."  Well, why not?  I gave them a quick rinse upon arrival.  These vacuumed sealed bags, are easy to handle.  Cut them open, give them a quick rinse in the colander.
If you are using fresh, give them a gentle rinse, one by one and take a scrub brush to them.  
The cooking method is the same for both.  The fresh, require a longer cooking time, by about 10 minutes or so.   These frozen are hard to beat.  When you live in Northeast Mississippi, sometimes you don't have much choice.  What a wonderful surprise. 
Ingredients: One pound of mussels, cleaned and ready to use
4 tablespoons of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic / diced or chopped.  I like to leave the pieces large enough for removal later.   They are not normally removed from the pan. 
one cup of dry white wine
1+1/2 tablespoons of Salt for your pasta water
2 teaspoons of salt (Mussels)
One pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper
Some parsley to taste
1/2 pound  pasta (approx 2 portions, I used spaghetti).
You must remember to remove your pasta before al'dente.  The secret to this dish is to let the pasta finishing cooking in the liquid with the mussels.  Then, pour everything into a serving dish. Here is the Method to one great dish.
Place an ample size pot of water on to boil.  Add your salt to your pasta water.   When its a rolling boil, add your spaghetti.  In the meantime, start cooking your mussels.  Remember, frozen mussels are already cooked and pasteurized.  So this method is very quick as you just want them brought back to life, not tasting like rubber. 
Method:   Heat your oil and garlic in a large enough saute pan or skillet that will accommodate your mussels and pasta.  Add your mussels, until they are heated through. Give them a gentle toss and add your white wine.  Turn your heat up some and let your wine begin to evaporate. 

 When your wine is about half and your pasta is just before al dente (doesn't bend very easily), drain it.  Reserve some of our pasta water (about a 1/2 cup), and add it all to the mussels. 
Cook for about 6 more minutes or so, until the pasta is cooked.  Add some salt and pepper here.  Your remaining liquid will evaporate but you will still have some delicious liquid, left in the pan.
Buon Appetito!
Special Note:
  1. Takes a little practice.  If you can't time it right, it will not hurt to turn your mussels off some. When your pasta gets to the stage you like,  add it to the pan and turn your heat back on.  The starch from the pasta water is VERY IMPORTANT  as it gives the this dish a creamier texture.   Just takes practice.  Enjoy!
2.  If using fresh Mussels.   The cooking method is a little different.  Be sure and add your mussels to the hot pan,  place the lid on the pan some and shake the pan.  Remove the lid after 2-4 minutes, until your mussels open completely.  Discard the ones that did not open.  (They were probably dead before they got there and not the fault of the cook).  Then continue with your white wine step along with your draining of your pasta.   Add your salt, pepper, parsley, right before serving.  Enjoy!
Special Note: You can even add a little pasta water before draining (about a 1/2 cup) to the mussels and clams.   The starch from the pasta water will help your condimento (mussels and clam mixture), become creamy and delicious when mixed. Just takes a little practice to determine how much liquid you prefer.  You want to pasta to be coated, not swimming.  hehehe. Enjoy!!! 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Pasta with Mussels (Red Sauce)

It's been a day of enlightenment for sure here at Sunday at the Giacometti's.   What better way to celebrate then simplicity at it's best.   I came across some fresh Mussels in the local market in Memphis, Tennessee and all I could think about is dish of pasta.   Who could blame me?
Ingredients for 4 people
12 oz of good quality, imported Italian dry spaghetti (I prefer Delverde)
8 quart pasta pot filled with water at a boil with 2 tablespoons of salt. 
One flat skillet, large enough to hold your ingredients.
3 cloves of garlic diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pinches of fresh hot pepper
one cup of white wine
1 pound of fresh, Black Mussels
12oz crushed/chopped tomatoes and their juice 
Handful of parsley
salt and pepper to taste 

In a pan, saute your garlic and olive oil until fragrant on about Medium.   Add your Mussels and toss them about the pan.   Put a lid on the pan for a few minutes until the Mussels begin to open.   Add your white wine and continue to cook until every one of your mussels in wide open (a few minutes).  Those that do not open, just discard.  They need to be freshly opened.     Gently remove them from the pan and set aside in a bowl.   Leave a little liquid in the pan, along with the garlic.   If you pan looks dry,   Add some olive oil.   If not, add your 12 oz of dice tomatoes, your wine and let cook for about 8 minutes or so on a slow simmer.    Add salt and pepper and taste to correct for salt.   Add some chopped parsley and add your Mussels back to the pan.
Continue to coat and cook for a few minutes.   Meantime, add your pasta to the boiling water.  Turn your heat off your Mussels and set aside.   Cook your pasta for 8-10 minutes until al dente.  Reserve about 1/2 cup of cooking liquid and add it to your mussels.  Drain your pasta and toss with  with your mussels.  Take it to the table in a hurry, you won't be able to resist a taste.  Don't forget a good, crisp white wine to serve along side.  Buon Appetito!