On Saturday, Yuseff, Marco, and I ventured out for our bi-weekly grocery shopping extravaganza. I wanted to run into Costco very quickly for two very specific things: Chocolate Milk Boxes for Marco’s Lunch and Kirkland’s Bacon. Of course– like all trips to Costco– this one went somewhat awry, and we ended up with all sorts of things we didn’t even know we wanted. Like mussels.
It’s something special when you come home with a 4 lb bag of something that you don’t know how to prepare, cook, or store. Thanks goodness for smartphones and Google, right?
We found this recipe and followed it pretty closely. We used 3 shallots instead of 4 (since that’s all we had on hand), I used only a heaping 1/4 cup of dried parsley because 3/4 cups seemed excessive and we didn’t have any fresh. And now that I’m looking at the original recipe and my pictures, it looks like I forgot to add the garlic– which is lame because I love garlic. It was still really delicious without it, but I’d recommend adding it for extra flavor. We decided to pair it with a lighter spaghetti dish and I remembered my dad telling me about how much he enjoyed eating Cacio e Pepe with my sister in New York and how he couldn’t believe how simple the recipe was. So, we found this recipe on Epicurious. We also deviated a little from the original recipe here. We used 1/2 a cup of Parmesan cheese because that’s all we really had and there was no way I was going back to the grocery store…
So… let’s get to it:
Mussels Steamed in a White Wine Broth:
Step 1: Rinse the mussels and sort through them. Discard any with broken
shells. When you find one with a shell that is gaping open, you need to determine if it is dead or asleep. We didn’t know that “sleeping” was an option, so we were just throwing the open ones into the sink and then they closed up! We Googled “What do we do if the mussels are opening and closing?” to determine that they were safe to eat. This is also how we found out that they were alive in the first place. So… long story short: if you knock the mussel against the counter and it doesn’t close, throw it out. Also– look for little “beards” and pull them off
Step 2: Heat 2 tablespoons Olive Oil, 1 tablespoon butter, 3 thinly sliced shallots, and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes on medium heat until the shallots are soft. Don’t let the butter start to brown. This is also where you would add 6 chopped garlic cloves (or 3 teaspoons of minced garlic).
Cacio e Pepe
Step 1: Boil a half-pound of spaghetti and remove from the water using tongs. Set aside. Reserve the cooking water.
Step 2: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a pan and add 1 tsp of cracked pepper(I twisted the peppermill about 10-15 times. So– I probably got more than just 1 teaspoon). cook for 1 minute.
Step 3: Add 1/2 cup of the pasta-water and bring to a simmer. Then add the cooked spaghetti and another tablespoon of butter. Sprinkle on some kosher salt to taste and toss in 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.
Enjoy this meal with a glass of chilled white wine. Delicious!
If you have leftover mussels– which you will if you cook 4 lbs of mussels for two people– DO NOT store them in the shell (something else I learned from Google…). I plucked the leftover mussels from the shells and covered them in the remaining broth. We put these in the freezer, since refrigerated leftovers need to be eaten within the next day or so and we have something else planned. When we defrost these, we’ll heat it up and toss with pasta for an easy dinner!