Along with some of the more typical suppers that sing to me of summer…burgers, grilled chicken, the perfect plate of lobster wonderfulness…summertime to me means it’s time to bring on the mussels. Preferably steamed up with handfuls of fresh summertime herbs and generous amounts of colorful summer veggies. This particular recipe steams the mussels in beer mixed with a little bit of sour cream to give it just a teeny bit of creaminess, and the whole thing is topped with crunchy, cheesy croutons. I have a lot of mussel recipes, and I love ’em all, but I just might love this one best.Parmesan croutons and fresh herbs turn mussels into the perfect summer supper!Click To TweetStart off by making the croutons…if you have leftover bread this is the perfect way to use it up. Cut it up into cubes and toss it with some olive oil, some parmesan and a little salt, and bake them up until they are golden and beautiful. This part you can do ahead if you want…you’ll just have to restrain yourself from snacking on them before they make their way onto the mussels.
If you haven’t made mussels before, you’ll love how easy they are. Most supermarkets sell them in bags…make sure you get them home and in the fridge pronto. When it’s time to cook, rinse them off and toss out any that are cracked or not tightly shut. If they have little “beards” on them (little tufts of stringy stuff on the end of the mussel), pull them off with a good tug. Now you are all ready to roll!
Mix up your favorite herbs in one bowl. Mix up the sour cream and mustard in another bowl. Have your mussels and beer and veggies at the ready! Now melt up a little butter with some garlic and thyme. Toss in some chopped tomatoes and scallions, and then stir in the mustard mixture. Add the mussels, pour the beer over the whole thing, give it all a good stir, and give it a grinding of pepper. Cover it up and wait for about 3 minutes. Now uncover it, toss in about half your fresh herbs, stir it around again, and put the cover back on. Check it again after about 5 minutes – at this point your mussels should be steamed open, and you have a gently creamy, beery, tomato sauce. Toss out any unopened mussels.
Now, you can certainly divide this into individual plates at this point…or you can do like I do. Have someone cover your table with a good layering of newspaper or brown paper grocery bags or anything else that you are okay with throwing out (or recycling!) when you are done. Pour the whole delicious mussel mixture into one big bowl, scatter the croutons on top, and sprinkle the rest of your fresh herbs over the whole thing.
I put the whole bowl in the center of the table along with another bowl of damp washclothes (you’ll be happy you have them later), and a basket of torn up country bread to sop up the juices. I hand everyone a fork, light the citronella candles, put on some dinner music and tell folks to dig in. The shells get tossed on the newspaper, and when all the mussels are gone and the sauce is sopped up and the candles are burning low and everyone has wiped their sticky hands clean with the damp washclothes, all you need to do is scoop up the newspapers, shells and all, and wash out the one big bowl and the forks.
Personally, I think summertime doesn’t get much better than this. Bring those mussels on!
- 4 generous slices country-style bread cut into cubes
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¾ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup chopped fresh chives
- ¼ cup chopped fresh tarragon
- ⅔ cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon whole grain brown mustard
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- 5 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 3 cups diced seeded tomatoes (about 4 large)
- 4 scallions, chopped
- 1 12-ounce bottle beer
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine bread cubes, Parmesan, and oil in medium bowl; sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Spread bread cubes evenly on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until bread cubes are crisp and golden around edges, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
- Mix parsley, chives, tarragon in small bowl. Whisk sour cream and both mustards in another small bowl to blend; set aside.
- Melt butter in extra-large pot with lid over high heat. Add garlic and thyme; stir 1 minute. Add tomatoes, and scallions and mustard mixture and stir. Add mussels, pour in the beer and grind on some black pepper.
- Cover tightly and cook until steam appears, about 3 minutes. Add half of fresh herb mixture and stir until mussels and herbs are gently mixed. Cover tightly again and cook until mussels open, 4 to 5 minutes (toss any mussels that do not open).
- Either pour mixture into one big bowl or divide among six individual bowls. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan croutons and remaining herb mixture and serve.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit