I never used to eat shellfish really. It just wasn’t something that jumped off a menu at me. Kevin was the one that got me hooked on it. We had gone to a little casino we have here locally and they have a seafood restaurant in it. You can order a pound of steamed clams, mussels, crab, etc. You can also get many different types of oysters on the half shell. THAT was a tough one for me to swallow, no pun intended, but he coaxed me into it and after trying a few different types I fell in love with Kumamoto oysters. They are small and sweet and oh so yummy! They of course are some of the most expensive you can buy but since we don’t do it very often it is a splurge that is well worth it.
Mussels were another thing that he had to work on to get me to try. For some reason the jump from clams to mussels seemed so huge. But mussels are more tender and sweeter and I am so glad I tried them. Now they are some of my favorite seafood. Once I learned I liked them I wanted to come up with a recipe that was something other than just white wine and shallots.
As I have mentioned, several times, we like things on the spicy side in this house. So when I saw a show on Food Network that mentioned JCT Kitchen and Bar in Atlanta, GA and their recipe for what they called “Angry Mussels” you can imagine how quickly the show had my full attention. Their recipe called for lots of bacon and fresh chilies YUMMM I knew this was putting me on the track I wanted to be on. So off I went to the store to get what I needed.
What is really nice is that mussels are relatively inexpensive. I paid $4.49 a pound for mine. The most expensive part of this recipe is the white wine and I am not adverse to splurging when it comes to finding a very tasty wine that will concentrate some awesome flavor in my food. Santa Margherita is my favorite Pinot Grigio on the the market. At a little over $20 a bottle it is not a bad deal. Especially when it means that you will have epic yumminess with the finished product.
This recipe is super simple, nicely priced, and wonderful to eat so give it a try!!
Angry Mussels with Garlic Cheese Bread
For the Mussels:
5 pounds mussels, scrubbed clean
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 bottle dry white wine (recommended: Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio)
1 bunch green onions, chopped whites and greens
5 serrano chilies, sliced
Red chili flakes (to your heat preference, I used a tablespoon)
Cracked black pepper
Scrub mussels one at a time to remove beards and any grit that might be on them. Discard open mussels that do not close with a few taps of your finger, and any with cracked or broken shells. Place the mussels in a bowl of cold water while you prep the other ingredients.
Heat the oil in a large wide mouth pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is starting to crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and reserve. Add the onions, garlic, chilies, red chili flakes, and cracked black pepper to taste. Saute 3 to 5 minutes, till onions begin to turn translucent. Deglaze the pot with the white wine and bring to a boil. Drain the mussels and transfer to the pot. Cover the pot and continue to cook until mussels open, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Toss the reserved bacon and green onions with the mussels and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve immediately.
For the Garlic Cheese Bread:
1 baguette, sliced lengthwise and cut the halves in half
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
6 cloves of garlic, pasted with salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese (use Parmesian if you can not find Asiago)
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Preheat over to 400 degrees F
Place the sliced baguette on a baking sheet. In a small bowl mix the butter, garlic, onion powder, and salt to taste. Spread the butter mixture evenly on each piece of bread. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from onion and sprinkle with cheese and parsley. Return to oven and continue to bake for 3 more minutes. Slice and serve.