What Did the Connollys Have For Dinner Last Night?

Because "What's for dinner?" is the most important question most of us answer every day.

So.... it's November 5th, and boy! Talk about your slow news days, huh? Nothing interesting ever happens around here. I suppose it's really kind of a blessing that we're not cursed to "live in interesting times," but I do wish every once in a while we could face a looming crisis or experience a total seachange in the American way of life or... just something! Oh well. Tiddly tum.

Anyhoo, in lieu of any kind of current events news whatsoever, and because I'm still putting together my thoughts on kitesports, I thought I'd get you caught up on what we've been eating.

November 4th

Last night, for whatever reason, I was feeling a little distracted and didn't put as much thought as I customarily do into the the question of what to have for dinner. Still, I got a couple of those pre-made pizza crusts and did one with sausage, a jar of red sauce and mozzarella and the other with pesto, sun-dried tomato and baby swiss. It wasn't Earth shattering, but we muddled by.

November 3rd

I'm getting a little cocky with my home butchering now. With barely any trepidation I bought a new side 'o beef from CostCo and grilled up a roast/steak that very night. I cut this sucker about 3 1/2-inches thick, seared it on both sides over a heap of coals, then moved it away from the fire and covered the grill while it roasted to temp. I call this a roast/steak because it was thicker than anything you'd want to attack by yourself (unless you're my father,) and I wanted to have some left over for lunches the next day.

November 2nd

Ah sweet mystery of life at last I've found you! Moulles, in my opinion, have to be the easiest way in the world to feel like you cooked something sophisticated and transportative in under ten minutes. If you can cook up a steaming pot of mussels for your family and call them to the table without unconsciously adopting a faux French accent, you're a lot more mature than I am.

These blue black beauties are Atlantic rope-grown mussels. (Rope-grown mussels, if you're not aware, are the only kind you should ever buy. Taste-wise, they are identical to wild mussels, but, because they don't grow on the ocean floor, they're entirely free of both beards and sand.) A big mesh bag of these cost $11 at the 'Co, and I steamed them in a broth of white wine, garlic and poached herbs. (I should clarify that when I say "poached" in this case, I don't mean I simmered the herbs in near boiling liquid, but rather that I stole them from neighborhood gardens under the pretense of walking my dog.)

Oliver had never tried mussels before, but he got really into this meal. He ate quite a few mussel meats, but I don't think he loved the taste. He did get really into taking the mussels apart and using the shells to spoon up the broth.


Chris Connolly said...

Josh asked for my mussel recipe. Here goes:

It's the easiest thing in the world.

CostCo doesn't always have mussels because they're not always in season. Sometimes, when they're spawning, they taste like crap. But when you see them at the 'Co, they're pretty much a sure thing. If you go to buy them, bring a cooler or a ziplock bag of ice or something to keep them from getting too hot in the car. Also, put them in ice in the fridge the second you get home and don't take them out until you're ready to cook.

Cooking them is as easy as possible. The recipe can literally go from fridge to table in about 12 minutes.

First, brown some garlic in olive oil in a pot with a tight fitting lid. Then pour in about half a bottle of white wine and throw in some lemon quarters, peppercorns and salt. (You could also add tomato chunks, capers, hot peppers, achiote seeds, hunks of sausage, shrimp, piece of corn on the cob, whatever you want.) Close the lid and let the liquid come to a rolling boil. While that happens, take out the mussels and wash them under cold running water. Take out any that are broken or don't make you feel secure.

When the wine's boiling, put the mussels in, close up the pot and steam them for about 7 minutes. Then, turn off the burner and let them sit in the closed pot for another 5 minutes. Bring them to the table and gather the whole fam around, then lift off the lid and let the steam escape while your wife and kids look at you with adoring eyes. Scatter some fresh herbs into the pot and stir everything up with a ladle.

I usually serve this with buttery toast, but spooning it over rice is also great. If you want everyone at the table to die of sheer joy, serve this with french fries. Do not eat any mussels that have not opened.