Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mussels Cooked in Beer

Mussels in tomato-lager broth.
All done. We are feeling full and happy at this point.
Adam and I love beer, and the other night our friends Stacey and Steve introduced us to an amazing new bar for beer nerds. Colorado Plus --they have 64 Colorado beers on tap. Their selection is fantastic and really interesting--with a heavy emphasis on big stouts and IPAs--and you can get flights. Adam was in heaven but I was running the half-marathon the next day, and I thought that, having actually trained for it this time, maybe I should stay sober even if it was Saturday. So instead of ordering the 12% barrel-aged Imperial Stout I actually wanted, I sipped some gluten-free raspberry crap because it was the only thing on their taps at less than 8%.
And for dinner I ordered the mussels--and to my annoyance, they were cooked wrong. Raw-ish chunks of tomato were lightly simmered in barely-cooked beer. The mussels were juicy and plump, but the whole thing failed to reach it's potential. Irritating. So I kept thinking about it, and wanted to make a better version of the dish myself. I usually make a simple white-wine preparation for mussels, but why not mix it up?

Mussels are simple to cook--you saute a cup or so of aromatics, then deglaze with two cups of the liquid of your choice (wine, beer, stock, coconut milk, etc), then add the mussels, cover, cook for five minutes until they open, mix with the broth then serve!

1 bag of mussels (2 lbs? From the grocery store)
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 red onion, diced
3 ripe red tomatoes, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 can of lager (I used our homebrew, but anything will work)
1 cup fish stock or vegetable stock
handful of parsley, finely chopped
salt to taste

What To Do 
Remove the mussels from their bag and place in a large bowl. Fill with cold tap water. This freshwater soak will get them to expel any sand or ocean schmutz in their shells.
Melt the butter in the bottom of a large pot with the heat on medium-high. Add the onion and tomatoes and saute, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for five more minutes.

Add the beer and stock. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, for seven or so minutes. You want the alcohol to cook out and for all the flavors to meld. Taste and add salt.
Drain the mussels and add them to the pot. Cover and allow to cook for about 5 minutes. Open the lid--are they open? If so, they're done. Sprinkle with the parsley. Ladel mussels into a bowl to serve, making sure everyone gets some of the tasty broth.
Serve with thick slices of sourdough bread.

I baked a loaf of bread to go with--using my trusty beer-yeast starter. The mussels were cooked in the beer this yeast produced--full circle or something, right? 
Mussels are a great choice when you're having people over--delicious and unusual, but really easy.

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