Mussels look like they take a lot of work to prepare, but nothing could be further from the truth. First, let’s talk about the difference between wild and cultured – wild are a dull bluish color with white erosion marks, and they may have seaweed or barnacles attached. If they have fibers that stick out between the two shells remove them with scissors or a quick tug.
Cultivated mussels are a shiny blue black and there may be no seaweed attached.
Fresh mussels may be stored in the shell in the coolest part of your refrigerator for five to eight days. To keep them moist, cover with a damp cloth or wet newspaper. They should not be stored in an airtight container or in water because they need to breathe. I put mine in a bowl with a damp cloth on top so they can breathe. The less mussels are disturbed, the longer they will remain alive; therefore, the time to clean them is just before cooking by scrubbing gently under cold water.
Mussels open before cooking? These should be discarded. Likewise, any that are not open after cooking should not be eaten.
MUSSELS STEAMED WITH WHITE WINE, GARLIC AND SHALLOTS
Delicious with crusty bread to mop up juices or atop linguine. Substitute butter for the olive oil if you want or a combo of both. Mussels give up liquid during cooking, making for a flavorful broth.
1/4 cup minced shallots
4 real large cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds cleaned mussels
1 cup dry white wine or more as needed
Handful fresh parsley
Chopped fresh tomatoes (opt)
Give bottom of very large pot a good coating of olive oil. Over medium heat add shallots and half the garlic. Cook a couple of minutes, don’t let garlic brown. Add mussels and turn heat to high. Stir well to coat and add rest of garlic, and wine. Cook about 5 minutes, or until mussels are opened. Sprinkle with parsley and tomatoes, and serve.
Tip from Rita’s kitchen:
Stockpot or Dutch oven – what’s the difference? A stockpot typically is taller than a Dutch oven. A Dutch oven is shorter with more surface area on the bottom. They both can hold the same amount of food, depending upon the size. If you have to choose, choose the Dutch oven since it’s more versatile.