Nearly a year ago, my MIL went to Italy for a glorious, unparalleled vacation that took her over several parts of the country and left us jealously seething back here in the States. She brought us back this delightful, tiny bottle of olive oil that we’ve only used to dress the simplest of ingredients, but it feels right to finally highlight in one of our posts–especially when we found some amazing vine-ripened tomatoes and Fairway’s unsurpassed salted fresh mozzarella to use as the featured stars. It seemed strange to get tomatoes in February because normally the tomatoes available are pretty terrible, but in our defense–the ones we purchased legitimately smelled like tomatoes. The original plan was to oven-roast them, but alas–time slipped away. So we worked with what we had–and any defects that the tomatoes had were more than masked by the delicious cheese.
After we indulged in a few of those babies, it was time for the main event: mussels, mussels, mussels. After committing mussel-cide a few months ago via suffocation, I’m now officially paranoid when it comes to bringing mussels home while keeping them alive. It’s times like these that make me miss Number 1 Fish Market in New Haven, because my mussels would come in a paper bag and they would be in our apartment in less than ten minutes, but it’s all about adjusting to new locations, right?
This is a recipe worth taking the risk in buying these mollusks, because it represents all that can be fantastic about great food, much less great bar food: a platter of shellfish, copious amounts of broth, and a bowl of bread to sop up all of the garlicky, shallot-y goodness–not to mention all of the complex flavors that came to the party courtesy of one of my favorite beers, Victory’s Golden Monkey.
I have an affectionate, not-quite-appropriate nickname for this beer–let’s just say that it’s a beer that is intense and will make you loopy and therefore must be imbibed with discretion. In any case, the second I saw a Golden Monkey mussel dish on the brewery’s menu the last time we were in town, I knew that I had to try it at home, since home was nowhere near the brewhouse or Pennsylvania. (Note: Victory Beer is easy to find in our city, but I suggest using this Beerfinder to find the closest retailer near you)
Steamed mussels aren’t tough to do–they need some simple aromatics such as shallots and garlic, and a good alcohol-based brew that will infuse flavor into the shellfish, which are all you need to make these delightful delicacies. It’s ideal to have a great loaf of bread to sop up the sauce that comes as a result of making these lovelies, but I managed to make another dish by bringing the contents to a boil, adding some couscous (measuring everything beforehand, I assure you), and voila–lunch for the next day or two.
This is a recipe that is perfect for those days that you long for a good bar meal, but you don’t live within walking distance of a watering hole.
Golden Monkey Mussels
adapted from Victory’s website, serves 2 as an entrée
- 2 pounds mussels (PEI or Maine mussels), de-bearded
- 1 shallot, sliced thinly
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 Tbsp butter, portioned
- Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
- 16 oz of Victory Golden Monkey
- Kosher salt and black pepper
Warm the butter in a sturdy pot and saute shallots and garlic until translucent and tender. Add the red pepper flakes and mussels, and then cover them all with the beer and season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high, cover the pan and let steam for about 5-8 minutes, or until the mussels all open. Place into a large serving dish and serve with bread.