Cape Cod Canal mussels in a heady brew

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This morning, they were populating the Cape Cod Canal.  This evening, our dinner table.

This morning, they were populating the Cape Cod Canal. This evening, our dinner table.

Here’s what we did.  Saute two strips of bacon, remove them from the pan and drain the excess fat.  Saute an onion, a full bulb (or two, even) of garlic, and a handful of fennel, all finely chopped, in the bacon fat.  When they’re browned and lovely, add back the chopped bacon (you chopped it while the other things were cooking) and add a few tablespoons of dry sherry and let it cook down.  Next come your other liquids.  We used about a cup each of vermouth, clam juice, and chicken stock, but the proportions and the specifics are flexible.

We adjusted the flavor with a little marsala and about a tablespoon of butter, brought the whole thing to a boil, tossed in about 3 pounds of mussels, and covered the lot.  They opened in just a few minutes, and we ate them with a crusty bread.

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Comments

  1. Cape Cod Rose says:

    They look wonderful. Did you fish them out of the canal this morning youself? If so, what is your trick to cleaning them? Don’t they have beards or mustashes or something that resembles a hair ball when they are that fresh?

  2. Funny you should ask, CCRose. Yes, Kevin and I musseled them out yesterday morning and, yes, they have a beard. It’s a little clump of what are actually byssal threads, and you can remove it by pulling it toward the hinge end of the mussel and giving it a good yank. Then all you have to do is scrub ’em a little, chip off any barnacles, and you’re good to go.

  3. Hi Tamar and Kevin, You guys are amazing!! The mussels look good. Do they taste more like a clam or an oyster? There is a great restaurant in NYC where my kids would love to go to eat piella (spelling) with mussels and other shellfish. They still rave about it. I wish I could remember the name—somewhere in SoHo area. Anyway, I was wondering if you found an abundance of starfish in your mussel search? When I taught grade one I always had a saltwater tank with things from around the area. My colleague and I would always schlep to the canal before school started to gather mussels to feed our starfish. We also got green crabs too. It was great for the kids because they could observe and touch before our field trip to the tide pools there at Sandwich town beach.

  4. Hi Jane — I can’t believe you took all your first graders to gather mussels at the Canal, but never ate them yourself! They’re probably more like a clam than an oyster — they’re mild, and they tend to taste like whatever kind of broth you cook them in.

    As for paella — given that we’re long shellfish, that’s on our list. We’ll be making it soon.

  5. across the pond says:

    What, no frites?
    We can never have mussels sans frites and bier!