Birthday MusselsServes four, generously
Nearly all of my favorite ingredients are contained in this dish: french mustard, shallots, and herbs. I find all of these flavors amazing. Miraculously, our kids like to eat these little shellfish -- as a result, this food signifies celebration and happy times for my people. For me, it’s the food of my ancestors -- eaten by Europeans on the North Sea and especially the Dutch (and Belgians, but I’m not Belgian!). Combined with plenty of crusty bread, seriously flavourful cheeses, and a fresh green salad, this recipe is my comfort and celebration food. Like risotto, mussels do not wait for the people -- the people wait for the mussels -- so cook these with friends or your family standing near, cocktail in hand!
4 lbs. mussels -- scrubbed under water and beard removed (discard the mussels not open -- they are dead!)1 T. olive oil1/2 c. diced shallots1 small (14 oz) can diced tomatoes 1 T. chopped fresh thyme1 c. white wine1 T. dijon mustard1/4 t. saffron1 t. salt
In a large Dutch oven heat olive oil over a low flame. When the oil appears shimmery, add shallots and stir a bit. Continue stirring every minute for five minutes until shallots are softened and translucent. Add thyme and stir a bit, then add dijon, saffron, tomatoes, salt, and wine. Stir until there are no lumps in the sauce. Allow this to boil and reduce for 4 minutes, then add the mussels -- I do this by picking them up with two hands and placing carefully in pan as not to break the shells. Turn heat up to high and cover for 4 minutes or until the shells just begin to open. Remove from heat and place directly on table, or wherever you are eating. Serve with individual bowls for each person and a large bowl for discarded shells.
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