We have been having some truly strange weather in San Diego these past few weeks. I’ll wake up to a chilly sea mist and drizzling skies. By late morning, it becomes overcast, muggy and humid. The sun may peak out for an hour or two before sunset. By bedtime it is hot has heck, that if you don’t crank up the AC or turn on the fans, you’ll be drenched by morning.
It’s the type of weather that makes you feel a little scattered and you definitely don’t want to be slaving away in the kitchen over a hot stove.
But a gal has got to eat. So I need dishes that are quick, light and still bring the feelings of summer. Since seafood, particularly shellfish, take practically no time at all to cook, mussels are the perfect choice.
Although I haven’t made my way to Belgium yet (but you know I definitely will!), I have a very strong feeling that I would be spending a good amount of time in friteries –little spots you can pop into to grab cones of piping hot fries. And what else will I be consuming with my Belgium fries? Lots and lots of mussels!
This little number is so simple and quick, you’ll be wondering why you don’t have it every week. Instead of white wine, I cooked the mussels with a Belgian wheat beer. Once the mussels release its liqueur, the salty sea flavor mixes with the rich, hoppy beer. Fantastic.
If you don’t want to crack out the deep fryer to make the fries, serve the mussels with crusty, toasted baguette to soak up all that goodness and enjoy the plump little shellfish. The cherry on top? This dish can be done in about 15 minutes.
Belgian Beer Mussels
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
½ cup diced shallots
½ cup diced leeks, washed and thoroughly dried
1 tablespoon minced garlic
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 ounces Belgian wheat beer
¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
2 pounds black mussels, scrubbed and debearded
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Heat a medium sized pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Once the oil is heated and butter is melted, add in the shallots, leeks, garlic, thyme, and red pepper. Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes until the aromatics are softened but not browned.
Add in the beer and tarragon. Once the liquids come to a boil, add in the mussels. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the mussels have opened.
Leaving the liquid in the pot, transfer the mussels with a slotted spoon to a large serving dish. Remove and discard any mussels that have not opened.
Turn the heat to high and whisk in the remaining butter to finish the sauce. Season with salt and pepper before pouring over the mussels. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with toasted baguette or frites along with lemon wedges.