I’ll be honest with you – I hardly ever intend to buy mussels at the grocery store. It’s only when I walk by the seafood counter and look at the offerings that I think to myself, “Hmmm, perhaps just a pound or two.” They’re perfect for a quick and delicious dinner. They’re relatively inexpensive and they’re really good for you.
The reason I don’t usually want to purchase mussels is because I don’t enjoy cleaning them. One pound isn’t so bad, but when it gets to two or three, my back starts to hurt as I lean over the sink in an effort to pull off all the beards. I do get suckered in though – especially when I think about all the different methods or preparation. Butter, garlic, beer – so many delicious ways to make them.
Yesterday, I grabbed two pounds on the fly. I knew I had the necessary ingredients to make what I wanted to make at home already, so I didn’t sweat things too much. I already had a mixture of lager in my cart for another recipe I’ll be putting together in a few days, so it was down to butter, onion and some other items that are usually staples in our house. Since Laura and I usually enjoy our mussels on some type of a bedding, I decided to grab a pound of spinach infused dried pasta. Nothing exciting here, just something off the shelf.
I usually prepare mussels in white wine, but I’ve heard of getting good results with beer as well. As I just mentioned above, I was buying beer, so I thought I’d use some of that. This recipe calls for a good quality lager, garlic, thyme, garlic, onion, parsley and mustard. Since this combination sounded perfect to me, I was really excited to get to work on making a good dinner.
1 Pound Dried Spaghetti
2 Pounds Mussels in Shells
Regular Olive Oil
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Sweet Onion, Chopped
4 Full Sprigs of Thyme
3 Teaspoons Garlic, Minced
Regular Table Salt
Ground Black Pepper
1/2 Cup Lager
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Parsley, Chopped
1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
I’d like to thank the New York Times for this recipe. While I slightly modified their version, I was ultimately inspired by them.
Cook the Pasta
In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. When it begins to boil, add the dried pasta. Let cook, stirring a few times, for about 8-10 minutes. The pasta should become just tender as it’s finished. Don’t overcook the pasta. When you can bite through it and not have any stick to your teeth, you’ll know it’s done.
When the pasta is finished, drain it into a colander and then return it to the pot. Drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil over it and stir well. All of the spaghetti should be completely coated with the oil. Set aside for later.
Clean & Rinse the Mussels
If you haven’t already, clean the mussels by pulling the beards from them. Also, rinse them well in a colander in your sink.
Sauté the Onions & Garlic
In a large skillet, add about 1 tablespoon of regular olive oil and warm the pan over medium heat. Then, when the skillet is to temperature, add in the onion, thyme and garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes until each of these ingredients is softened.
When that’s finished, pour the beer into the skillet and bring it to a simmer.
Cook the Mussels
Add the mussels to the pan and cover. Let them steam for about 8-10 minutes, stirring once during that time. Cook until the mussels have opened, being sure to remove any that don’t.
Plate the Spaghetti & Mussels
At this point, you can add some spaghetti to each bowl and then divide the mussels up between the bowls as well.
Make the Sauce
There should be some liquid left over in the skillet. Keeping the heat on, add the butter, parsley and mustard and mix for a minute or so, or until the butter is melted.
You can also add some salt and pepper to taste at this point. When finished, spoon the sauce over the mussels in the bowls.
The Final Dish
What you should end up with is a very tasty bowl of spaghetti and mussels. The mussels are inherently salty and the sauce is bursting with flavor. Give this one a try!