MAMSM: Basque-style mussel and white bean stew.

Basque-style mussels and white bean stew.

Basque-style mussels and white bean stew.

I know the first post in this series was for an agua fresca, but I should make it clear that juicing is not something we do at all, but every once in a while I’ll crave something sweet and light and that fresh drink mix does the trick nicely. But then I see things like this interview and I’m kind of boggled by anyone being satiated by only drinking a few juices during the day and waiting until the evening to eat a meal of solid food. Then again, there’s no way I could do what I want to do powered simply by juice, because you can’t lift heavy or lift in volume on what appears to be a very limited amount of calories, particularly in the protein realm.

Because that’s the thing about doing things like barbell deadlifts and squats: for me, I need to feel like I have some serious fuel in the tank to get over the mental hurdle that is pulling a series of heavy triples in a row, or doing a circuit that calls for ten to twelve rounds of pressing sixty pounds over my head and squatting it on my back, all the while feeling confident that every time I do so I’m completely in control of the barbell in my hands. Fueling those pre-workout dinners with something that’s both filling but not stuffing can prove to be a challenge, but I find a nice balance with seafood, especially when I pair it with beans or quinoa.

What makes this stew work so well is that there really isn’t much to it: you make the broth by steaming the mussels in a mixture of sherry and white wine, with the former adding a buttery flavor and the mussels providing most of the salt you need, you take out the mussels, strain the liquid, and after sauteing some garlic and fresh chile together, the beans are added with the soup and the picked mussels, heated to warm through, and you’re done. The only key is to not over-salt the broth because the mussels have plenty of salt on their own; while my seasoning did not make the stew inedible, it was still quite…briny.

I suppose that’s not a bad thing when it comes to seafood, right?

Basque-style Mussel and White Bean Stew

adapted from a recipe by Alex Raij as seen in Food and Wine

  • 2 lbs mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 3/4 cup dry sherry
  • 3/4 cup white wine (I like a nice Verdejo here, but use what you like)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small chile, minced
  • 2 14-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Bread for dipping

Using a large skillet, the mussels to the mixture of sherry and wine. (Discard any broken mussels you see here). Bring the pan to a simmer over moderate heat, and then cover and cook until the mussels open, about three or so minutes. (Fresher ones may take a little longer.) Remove fully-opened mussels as you see them, and when cool enough to touch take the mussels out of their shells and set aside, discarding the shells. Strain the broth (there may be some bits of shell or sediment left) and reserve.

Clean out the pan, add the olive oil, and bring to moderate heat. Cook the garlic and chile for about a minute, then add the beans, toss quickly, then add the broth and bring to a boil. Taste the broth and then season with additional salt if necessary. Reduce to simmer, add the mussels and parsley, and heat through. Serve immediately with bread.

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7 comments
  1. FWIW, I need to feel like I have serious fuel in the tank just to sit at my desk. I really like the addition of beans in this stew, especially cannellinis because they’re so mild, I bet they really let the (briny) seafood flavor come through!

  2. Kim said:

    Lol, I agree with Lawyers Love Lunch. My the time I’m out of the office for the day, I’m wiped. The gym takes a backseat… and then I wonder why I feel so lethargic. Blech!

    Beautiful stew. Do you think I’d kill it if I added some itsy bitsy pork cubes? I’m on a pork kick, cant you tell? :)

    [K]

    • Never! After all, this comes from the country with the best damn ham in the world, right?

  3. PinotNinja said:

    This looks (a) delicious and (b) perfect for me to eat for lunch on days when I’m doing longer runs after work. And I would obviously add in a little bacon because it makes you run faster. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. Thanks for sharing!

    • Well, I tell myself that bacon helps me lift more, so I know what you mean. :)

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