Sunday, February 9, 2014

Beer Mussels With Bacon and Potatoes

I love mussels. Rich broth, tasty little morsels, and some good crusty bread to soak up that broth. There’s not much quite like it. So damn good. Beer steamed mussels are great for several reasons…they’re inexpensive, their ease of cooking, and their time to cook. All in all, you can have a badass meal in 20-30 minutes. Beer mussels with bacon. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’d stop reading at mussels, beer, and bacon, and just get right to cooking it.

Mussels are easy and fool proof. Tap on them, to make sure they close. The ones that don’t close, you toss in trash. Scrub to clean. Cook. The ones that don’t open after cooking, you toss in the trash. Done.
There’s many types of broth you can make for this dish; many with beer, many with wine, sake, seafood stock, etc. Of course, I chose beer. And the beer, in fact, that I chose is a Gose style ale from Choc Beer Company out of Krebs, OK. A gose ale is not a highly brewed beer. I mean, it’s a pretty tough beer to get. Thankfully, we have Choc brewing it right here in Oklahoma. It’s a wheat beer brewed with coriander, and has a saltiness to it as well as a tartness. A cooling refresher. I love this beer. Their Signature Series, which includes this Gose, is top notch.

This Gose is perfect with fish, shellfish, and other seafood. A quencher with a faint salty background, citrus and bready spice through-out, and a great tartness. With mussels, it’s wonderful.
I think you’ll enjoy this dish. It’s very hearty and warm and perfect for winter. I used what I had in the fridge and it just turned out great. This recipe calls for a half bottle of the beer. Which, actually, the bottle comes in 750ml size which is 25-26oz. So, measure out a little more than half, and drink the rest! It’s a win-win situation! And if you can’t find a gose in your area, find a beer with similar qualities.

2-3 lbs of mussels, scrubbed and debearded
15-18oz of Gose ale (or other style of citrusy wheat beer)
3-5 slices of bacon, chopped
1/2 lb of new potatoes, small diced (about 1/2in bite-size pieces)
1 fennel bulb, core cut out and thin sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp of chile sauce (sriracha or other)
1 red chile, finely diced
Sea salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
Blanched green beans (optional)
Some quality crusty bread

Yield: 2 for entree or 4 for appetizer

* First and foremost, when storing mussels, get a large bowl. Toss in some ice cubes and a little water. Put mussels in bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel until ready to use.

Ok….here’s the tedious part…
When preparing your mussels, you’re going to toss several in the trash. You buy 2 lbs worth, and when all is said and done, you’re really going to end up with about 1 1/2 lbs worth. You have to inspect every mussel. With some cold running water, and a small knife or spoon or something, tap on each mussel. It should close up. If it doesn’t close completely, then toss in trash. Also, if the shells are cracked or broken, then toss in the trash.

Hold mussel under the running water and scrub with a sponge or whatever. If there are beards, then use your knife and thumb and cut them off. Set the good mussels aside in another bowl until all are inspected, cleaned, and ready.

Now, the easy part!
In a large pan, over medium heat, add in the chopped bacon. Cook for about 10minutes until the bacon starts to become crispy. Then add in the fennel and potatoes, and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the garlic and cook for about a minute.

Push everything to the side of the pan and pour in the beer. Scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Mix well. Then turn the heat to high. Add in the chile sauce. When the beer starts to boil, turned heat back down to medium and add in the mussels. Add in the blanched green beans as well if you have them (I figure potatoes and green beans go well together). Cover and toss a few times. Cook for 4-5 minutes until all mussels have opened. 

Take off heat. The mussels that haven’t opened, toss in the trash. Spoon everything else into large bowls immediately and pour broth over everything in the bowls. Garnish with the diced red chile. Serve with a nice side of crusty bread like sourdough. Mop up that broth with the bread! It’s so fantastic!

Hearty and filling. Pair this meal with a gose or gueze. Even a stout, such as an Irish stout or oatmeal stout or oyster stout, would work well with this dish too, I would think.

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