Or maybe a satisfying Friday night Chowder!
2 LBS MUSSELS – cleaned, de-bearded
3 CUPS BROTH – vegetable or fish
½ CUP WHITE WINE – dry, your favorite
2-3 YUKON GOLD POTATOES – peeled,
1-2 TBS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
½ CUP PANCETTA – diced
1 ONION – coarsely chopped
1 CELERY RIB – small, chopped
1 CARROT – small, chopped
PINCH OF FRESH THYME – chopped
2 GARLIC CLOVES – minced, or to taste
SEA SALT – to taste
½ CUP HEAVY CREAM
3 TBS FLOUR – I use Wondra
FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
Scrub and de-beard the mussels under cold running water. (Use pliers to remove tough
Beards.) Place cleaned mussels in a large water with ice water and salt and let soak for about an hour to allow the mussels to expel any inside grit. Drain and rinse a few times, discarding any mussels that are cracked or may have opened.
Put the mussels in a large pot with the wine and bring to a slow boil over high heat. Cook, shaking the pot often for about 5 or 6 minutes or just until the mussels have opened. Discard any that have not opened and carefully with a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a large bowl.
Strain the remaining cooking liquid in the pot through a very fine sieve or several layers of cheese cloth into another bowl. This will remove any grit that has remained. (Grit will ruin the entire meal.) The cooking liquid and added broth should equal 4 cups. If not, add additional broth and set aside.
In the meantime, cook the potatoes in a pot with cold, salted water that covers the potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking until the potatoes are just slightly tender. Drain and set aside.
While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook stirring occasionally until the pancetta is slightly crisp. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened. Sprinkle in the flour and mix well. (I use Wondra because it blends well and doesn’t lump but all-purpose flour works too.) Stir in the reserved liquid mixture bring to a simmer and then adjust the heat to medium low and continue cooking with the lid slightly open for about 10-15 minutes to allow all the seasonings to blend together. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
Stir in the cream and return to a simmer. Add the mussels and potatoes. Cover and cook to warm the potatoes and mussels, about 3-5 minutes. Serve in deep bowls and pass some crusty, toasted Italian bread slices to sop up the delicious juice.