One lone bottle of Victory Golden Monkey has been languishing in our fridge for a while not because we don’t like it, but out of a strange dance of politeness. Neither Michael nor I wanted to be the one to finish it off, I think, out of deference to the other, and so it sat by itself at the bottom of the kitchen door shelf, neglected and forgotten. Que triste.
Lest you start feeling too bad for this bottle of beer, I urge you to watch this to snap you out of your funk:
OK, so I just wanted any excuse I could find to post this–sue me! More importantly, if you want to see what we did with this lovely bottle of beer, well, follow me after the jump!
While Michael is generally el capitan del carne in our kitchen, there are a few proteins out there that I’m more than happy to tackle without any input from him, namely clams and mussels. Mussels are especially great because they tend to be the cheaper of seafood options, plus they score high on the sustainability scale. There really isn’t much involved in steaming them well: just get a nice heavy-bottomed pot (cast iron is perfect here), melt some butter and some aromatics, add in the mussels and some sort of cooking liquid, bring the heat up, cover, and let them steam. Any that refuse to open after 5-8 minutes or so should be discarded.
If I’m in the mood for a little moules marinières I’ll look to a nice dry white wine (and perhaps Michael will decide to make some frites to go along with them), but there is something so great about the aroma of your favorite beer filling you kitchen with delicious steam. This is a take on a dish that I made back in the wintertime, but I was craving something a little more substantial than just bread to sop up the sauce so I added some spaghettini to the party.
You might think that this combined with the hearts of palm salad that Michael made would make for a lot of food for two people, but it ended up being a sort of pot-luck: we each “brought” a dish to the table that we wanted to have and made sure we had enough to share a substantial taste with each other. Yes, we both ended up eating our own dish more than the other, but sometimes a shared kitchen calls for a compromise and an allowance to indulge as we please. It sure beats leaving a delicious beer to languish in the fridge.
Victory Golden-Monkey Mussels with Breadcrumbs Over Spaghettini
Serves 2 with several lunches’ worth of leftovers
- 1 lb spaghetti or spaghettini
- 2 lbs mussels, cleaned and debearded
- 2 shallots, sliced thinly
- 2 cloves garlic, minced finely
- 1 12oz bottle Victory Golden Monkey
- 3/4 C breadcrumbs, toasted
- 1/4 C parsley, minced finely
- 2 TBSP butter
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring a pot of water (at least 2 quarts) to a boil, season with salt and cook the pasta to about a minute or two less than package directions. Reserve one cup of the pasta cooking liquid and then drain the rest, returning the pasta to the pot. Drizzle a little olive oil on the pasta to keep it from sticking and toss with half of the toasted breadcrumbs.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a Dutch oven (ours is 7.25 qt) and then add shallots and garlic; cook until shallots are soft and garlic is fragrant. Add mussels to the pot and then add the beer; cover the pot and bring to a high heat. Steam the mussels for about 5-8 minutes until they open (discard any that fail to do so), lower the heat, add the remaining breadcrumbs to the pot and toss to coat. Remove mussels from the pot. Combine the buttery beer-shallots-and-garlic sauce to the pasta, toss to coat, garnish with parsley and then plate, adding the mussels to the top. Season with salt and pepper to taste, if desired.