bits and pieces

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Maple Chipotle Mussels

Do not eat that chili. No matter how red and appealing it looks.
Mussels are one of the first things I learned how to cook properly. This is likely because they are cheap, delicious, and easy to make. I know seafood isn't for everyone but if you are a lovah like moi, then you know mussels are divine.

These are the PERFECT 'people are coming over and I have to cook nice things but I don't know what to cook and how am I going to have a nice dinner and I'm tired and don't want to do things and wah!' dish. You can make them in one pot. All you need as a side is a baguette (or 6) or some fries. Step it up with some hand cut fries and homemade mayo, or be too lazy for a bread knife and simply tear some French bread with your paws (like me).

Giving 16 year old girls fake phone
numbers was allowed, but frowned on.
I may have mentioned L'Academie,  a BYOW restaurant in the Plateau that we used to frequent. L'Academie had wonderful mussels and a laissez-faire attitude towards their diners....

This coupled with a next-door SAQ led to several wild nights in which dozens of birthday cakes were ordered, people would drink in utility closets, and toast-off's would be fought against neighbouring tables. I would never ever want to work there, but as a tipsy customer -  it was a great place to enjoy. From closet drinking, to shirt-switching, colt-45s to syrahs.... L'Academie welcomed all. I can't cook mussels without reminiscing.

Mussels have a soft and tender place in the mollusk section of my heart.. Sigh.

ordering too many pieces of cake..
also allowed. less frowned upon.
However - when it comes to killing them.....

The only thing you really have to worry about when cooking mussels is making sure you have good mussels. A few basic/obvious pointers - mussels are alive and they are salt water critters. Do not leave them soaking in tap water. Do not leave them in a sealed plastic bag. Do not cover them with saran wrap. They need to breathe. If you aren't cooking them immediately, leave them in a colander placed over a bowl (so water doesn't leak all over your fridge). Also - never buy mussels saran wrapped in a package (MOP mussels are different though). SO many grocery stores will wrap up their mussels. If you can, always buy your seafood from a local seafood shop vs. a Safeway or Provigo or something.

Once you are ready to cook mussels just sort through them and throw out any cracked or broken mussels. Give them a rinse in water and you're ready to go! That wasn't so bad, was it?

1 lb of mussels (most mussels come in 2 pound bags so just double this..)
a splash of olive oil 
1/2 an onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/4 tsp chili powder
 1/4 tsp old bay seasoning
1/4 tsp dried chipotle chili/powdered chipotle
1/2 tsp paprika
a pinch of cumin
a pinch of pepper
1/2 a cup white wine
1/4 cup cream
2 tsp maple syrup. 
1 spicy dried chili/a tsp of chili flakes
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp garlic powder

other things you will need:
a big pot/wok/giant frying pan for cooking them and a lid that will cover it.
cutting board, knife, stirrin' spoon
some sort of starch-bread-potato fry for dipping 
1 bowl for serving, 1 bowl for shells
the foresight to not leave mussels sitting in your garbage can for a day and a half. As they will smell.

  1. Clean + sort your mussels. Set aside. Check out some other mussel recipes on my blog for more info. 
  2. In a big pot/wok/frying pan, over medium high heat, sauté your onion + garlic in some olive oil for a few minutes. Once they have sautéd or a bit and are all fragrant, add all your spices, your bay leaf and your chili/chili flakes and stir and cook for 2 or 3 more minutes. 
  3. Add your white wine and stirrrrrr. Add your maple syrup and stirrr. 
  4. Cook for a minute or so and then ADD YOUR MUSSELS. Stir them around for 30 seconds to coat them, then pop on a lid, crank that bitch up to high and leave them for 3 minutes. 
  5. Open your pot-wok-thing. Are the mussels open? Good! Shake them around a little and then lovingly pour cream all over. Stir a little more (gently though). 
  6. Serve with an absurd amount of bread or frites!

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