About this recipe
Maine mussels are the best in the world, in my opinion. Having never eaten the New Zealand green-lipped variety at the source, I recognize that my opinion may be naive. But I have eaten blue mussels in at least four European countries, and I maintain that the briny, almost oyster-like flavor of wild Maine mussels has no peer. Even rope-grown varieties, with their slick and streamlined shells, thrive in the Gulf of Maine’s aqueous admixture, meaning anyone looking for a great mussel-eating experience need look no further.
One of Black Trumpet’s most popular dishes, Moules & Frites, was also one of the simplest dishes to create. It’s a no-brainer: french fries heaped on mussels cooked with shallots and white wine and drizzled with aioli. The recipe, technique, and presentation we used for that dish were direct thefts from my friend Gary at Central Kitchen. They are so good, I firmly believe they can’t be improved on. But if you want the recipe, you won’t find it here. You’ll have to wait for Gary to write the Central Kitchen book.
Instead, I offer you mussels steeped in this wintry beer lover’s broth. Dark, brooding, and rich, this may be the perfect bistro dish to share while plotting a Good Food Revolution.
8 ounces (225 g) chorizo, diced
2 tablespoons clarified butter/olive oil blend
2 leeks, quartered, sliced ¼ inch (0.5 cm) thick, and soaked in cold water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ounce (30 ml) porter¼ cup (60 ml) tomato puree
1 pound (455 g) mussels
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped herbs (any combination of oregano, rosemary, thyme, and Italian parsley will work here)
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
In a large high-sided sauté pan, render the chorizo in the clarified butter over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered out and the chorizo begins to get crispy. Add the leeks and cook over low heat, 4 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add the porter and tomato puree and stir to combine. Add the mussels, cover, and steam over high heat for about 5 minutes, or until all the shells have opened. Strain all the liquid into another 1- to 2-quart (1 to 2 L) pan and add the butter, herbs, and smoked paprika.
Arrange the mussels in a large serving bowl and pour the liquid over the top. Serve with bread—ideally pumpernickel or, if you feel extra ambitious, Pumpernickel Pudding.
This recipe is from Evan Mallett’s book Black Trumpet: A Chef’s Journey Through Eight NewEngland Seasons (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2016) and is printed with permission from the publisher.