Grill Week Day 2: New Territory for Mussels

29th Aug 2006

P1010020_1 To make a grill week interesting, you have to move beyond the basic hamburger, steak, boneless skinless chicken breast, and the occasional fish.  We've done steak twice before , and as we espoused during the Shake Shack Alternative week , we're not big fans of the charred-on-the-grill burger (naysayers and defenders, feel free to comment away).  Leave that business to dad. So, we looked for new territory, some item that might be removed from its normal setting and taste better over charcoal.  That ingredient was mussels. My first thought was to find some in Chinatown, but I had no luck (and not that much perseverance).  I found them at a couple places in plastic bags on the half-shell--clearly no longer alive--and I'd always been taught that the point was using only the living.  When I did buy them at a Gourmet Garden, the somewhat thuggish cashier started chatting me up.  "I hear these are really good to eat with a lady, right?"  "Really?" I smiled.  "Thanks for the tip.  But I'm just eating these with my roommate." "Oh, I'm disappointed in you, man!  Girls love to get that broth at the bottom and slurp--"  "Thanks, keep the change!" The idea with this recipe is you grill the mussels for a few minutes right over the charcoal, and as they open they move into the broth on the other side to finish cooking.  It's far less rich than other recipes we've tried but genuinely tasty, and one of the most group-oriented meals I could imagine: everyone sits outside drinking cold white wine, huddled around the grill, picking mussels out of the simmering broth and slurping them down and following with a little crusty bread dunked in.  There's nothing like an ongoing, communal meal when it's the end of summer and you get to eat something as sensual as garlicky, slippery mussels.  Let grill week continue! Grill-Steamed Mussels P1010027_5

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic, divided
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tomato about the size of a baseball, cored and diced small
  • 4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • good crusty bread

Serves 3-4.  Adapted from The Victory Garden on PBS. First, prepare your mussels, which involves scrubbing and debearding, instructions here .  Get your coals going and let them develop a little into white-hot embers.  The heat should be around medium.  Put a tablespoon of the garlic and a little butter into your foil (or otherwise flame-proof) pan over the heat and let the garlic release its glorious smells.  Add the tomato after a couple minutes, then pour in the wine to deglaze.  Add a little more butter and the parsley and move to the other side of the grill.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. P1010029_1 Throw a handful of mussels onto the grill and watch as they pop open one by one.  Once they open give them another minute or so, then transfer to the broth and let them simmer for 6-8 more minutes, or until the insides hold together well and the texture is just slightly chewy.  If any do not open with the rest, discard them. P1010031_3 When you're ready to eat the mussels, squeeze lemon juice over them and sprinkle with parsley.  Move more over the coals and cylce through the lot as the sun begins to set.  Sop up cooking juices with your crusty bread. P1010032_3


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