Grilled Mussels With Salsa Verde
By Chef John Ash
This is a fun little appetizer or hors d’oeuvre. It can be made as much as a day ahead, refrigerated and then grilled at the last minute. You can also finish this in a hot (450 degree) oven. The bonus in this recipe is that you also get the mussel stock, which is a delicious base for seafood soups and sauces. Strain it through a fine strainer and freeze for use later on. It cries out for a chilled glass of Sonoma-Cutrer Rosé.
Total Time 2 hours
Prep Time 30 minutes
Difficulty Level Medium
3 lbs fresh mussels
1 c dry white wine
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp chopped parsley
1 c coarsely chopped parsley (for salsa verde)
4 anchovy fillets, rinsed (for salsa verde)
2 tbsp drained capers (for salsa verde)
2 tbsp blanched or roasted garlic (for salsa verde)
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil or mint (for salsa verde)
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest (for salsa verde)
2/3 c fruity extra-virgin olive oil (for salsa verde)
Salt (for salsa verde)
Freshly ground black pepper (for salsa verde)
Wash the mussels thoroughly and pull off the “beards” (the little bit of seaweed that might be clamped in the shell). Add mussels to a large saucepan or pot along with the wine, butter and parsley.
Cover tightly and over high heat cook until the mussels open, about 4 minutes. Be sure to stir a couple of times. Discard any mussels that don’t open. Strain and reserve the broth per discussion above.
When cool enough to handle, remove top shell from each mussel. Loosen meat and place mussels in their half shells on a baking sheet on which you’ve loosely crumpled a sheet of foil or coarse salt. This is to prevent them from tipping.
Add a scant teaspoon of broth to each and then spoon a generous dollop of the salsa verde on each mussel.
To serve: place baking sheet with mussels on grill, close the lid to pick up smoky flavors and cook until salsa just begins to bubble and mussels are heated through, 5 minutes or so. Serve immediately.
Salsa verde: This is a quick little sauce of Spanish origin that is delicious on all kinds of grilled, pan seared or roasted meats, fish and vegetables. Note that I’ve used blanched or roasted garlic rather than the fresh raw type. I think this is especially important if you are going to make the sauce ahead. Within an hour, raw garlic can become harsh and hot. Blanched or roasted garlic maintain
Add the parsley, anchovies, capers, garlic, basil and zest to a food processor or blender. With machine running, slowly add the oil until just blended. Sauce should still have a little texture. Season with salt and pepper. Can be stored covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.
Note: To poach garlic, separate cloves but don’t peel. Place in a small sauce pan and cover withat least 1/2 inch of cold water. Place on stove over high heat and bring to a boil. As soon as water boils, drain and repeat process one more time. Rinse to cool off cloves. Remove husk from poached garlic and store covered in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
To roast garlic, cut off top quarter of a whole head to expose each of the cloves. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap loosely in foil and roast in a preheated 375-degree oven for 30 – 40 minutes or until garlic is soft when gently squeezed.
Store covered in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Squeeze out as needed.