Saturday, February 16, 2013
Recipe: "Mussels with Verjus, Fennel, and Onion", my own recipe based on "Mussels with Fennel and Lovage" from BonAppetit and "A National Obsession: Belgium's Moules Frites" from Saveur and the accompanying recipe Moules Frites (Steamed Mussels and Fries).
Rating: Great! I loved the verjus broth. Cooking the mussels is very quick.
Status: Made once. Will make again.
Since I was using verjus, I didn't want to also buy white wine, and I couldn't find lovage. I didn't want to buy celery just for the celery leaves or for just one or two stalks, since I don't have any other celery dishes planned this week. So I ended up with the following recipe. Following the advice of this article and this article, I froze my extra verjus in an ice cube tray so that I can save it for months. Verjus can be hard to find; white wine can be substituted for verjus in this recipe.
I know that French fries are traditional with Moules Frites, but I didn't want to make something so complicated tonight. I choose roast potatoes since they are simple to make. It would be even better with fries or crusty bread.
Ingredients: (serves two)
1.5 pounds mussels
1/2 of a small fennel bulb (reserve the fennel fronds for garnishing)
1/4 yellow onion
1/2 cup verjus
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter
Soak the mussels in very cold water with a little salt for 20 minutes so that the mussels will expel sand.
Mince the onion and fennel into small pieces about 1/4 inch wide and 1/4 inch long. You should have about 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups of vegetables. Mince about 2 Tbsp of fennel fronds. Set aside.
Pick the mussels out of the water (draining them will pour the sand that they expelled over them) and put them into a colander. Scrub them under cold running water to remove anything on their shells. Debeard them by firmly pulling the brown strains attached towards the hinge end of the mussels. Not all mussels will have beards, and you should debeard them just before cooking because they won't keep well after they have been debearding. Discard any mussels that aren't firmly closed, and don't close when you tap them.
Get your garnishes ready (butter, ground pepper, fennel fronds) and set them beside the stove. Heat a heavy cast iron pot with a tight fitting lid on high (I used the highest setting, even on my stovetop which tends to be really hot). When it is very hot, add the verjus, fennel, onion, salt, and mussels all at once. Stir and cover tightly. Cook for about 5 minutes or until all of the mussels have opened. During the cooking, you should hold the lid on the pot with pot holders and shake it gently to help make sure that the mussels are being heated evenly (don't shake it hard enough to splash out the liquid). If some mussels cook much faster than others (mine all cooked at the same time, so I didn't have to do this), you can use tongs to pick the cooked mussels out and to set them into a bowl so they don't get over cooked (be sure to add them back in when you add the garnishes). If necessary, you can also stir the pot to help cook the mussels if you need to.
When all or most of the mussels have opened, add butter, ground pepper, and fennel fronds and stir. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Recover, and bring to the table, and then uncover and serve immediately when they are hot.
Recipe: "Roast Potatoes with Butter and Rosemary", my own recipe based on the suggestions in "How to Ruin Roasted Potatoes and Other Spuds" from Food & Wine.
Rating: Good. The inside of the potatoes are creamy from parboiling. This isn't a quick dish to make since roasting takes about 45 minutes, but there is very little work that needs to be done.
Status: Made once.
Ingredients: (serves two)
A variety of potatoes, preferably yukon gold or fingerlings or Germain butterballs. Do not a use waxy potato like red bliss. Unfortunately I didn't measure that amount of potatoes that I used, but it was 2 medium-large yukon golds and a slightly bigger amount of fingerlings.
1.5 Tbsp of butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 sprig of rosemary, dried or fresh
1/2 tsp dried thyme, use slightly more if you have fresh thyme
pinch of ground black pepper
1/4 tsp Maldon salt
Wash and cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces which are roughly the same size.
Parboil the potatoes by covering them in cold or room temperature water, and bringing them up to a boil. Simmer until you can pierce them with a knife, but the potato won't easily slip off (they should still be raw, and definitely should not be falling apart). For small pieces of potato, this may take 5 minutes; for larger pieces, this may take 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. This parboiling step cooks the insides of the potatoes so that they will be creamy when the outsides crisp up. It also makes the roasting faster, and prevents you from having to make the outsides overly dry in order to get the insides cooked through. You can also parboil the potatoes several hours in advance if you need to.
Preheat oven at 375 to 400 F.
Potatoes stick less if they are put in a hot pan before they are roasted. Put on cast iron pan on medium heat. When it is hot, melt the butter in it. Add the potatoes, rosemary stalk, thyme, and 1/4 tsp salt. Stir.
Put the cast iron pan in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes, or until the sides of the potatoes start to turn golden. Stir once, halfway through cooking.
Remove the potatoes from the oven. Remove the rosemary leaves from their stalk; add the leaves back into the potatoes but discard the stalk. Stir to redistribute the butter and rosemary. Garnish with Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve while hot.