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Sunday, 4 July 2010

Gratin of Mussels

I am normally not one for fiddly food that requires a long preparation: these mussels are the exception to my rule. And why is that, you will wonder? Because a single mouthful of their juicy flesh, covered in that golden, cheesy crust, is enough to repay me for the time spent in the kitchen scrubbing them clean, opening them all one by one, scraping the flesh from both shells to go into one and stuffing them with the various ingredients. If this hasn't put you off already from attempting to prepare this dish, please give them a go. I promise you won't regret having put in the effort!

INGREDIENTS (for 4 people as a starter, or 2 as a main)

  • 1 Kg of fresh mussels
  • A large handful of freshly chopped parsley
  • A large handful of grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Please bear in mind that this dish should be prepared, cooked and eaten immediately. Seafood is quite delicate, so once the mussels have been prepped, you don't want them to sit around for too long before putting them into the oven and once they are cooked, you should enjoy them while they are still nice and hot.

Get your mussels, scrub their shells clean with a pairing knife, pull off and discard the beards. If any of them does not close up while you are handling them, plunge them in cold water - if they still remain open, throw them away as it means they are already dead and potentially harmful to your stomach! Still using your pairing knife, insert the tip of the blade in between the two shells, on the side where their shape is straighter, and lever along the edge to severe the hinge. Your mussels will open up easily at this point, their flesh divided in between the two shells. Using a spoon, scrape the flesh off one of the shell halves (be gentle, try to keep it as whole as possible), place it in the other shell and discard the empty one. Place your single shells in a baking tray. 

For each of the mussels, this is what you need to do: 1 - sprinkle it with salt, pepper, garlic and parsley; 2- drizzle with olive oil; 3 - place a pinch of grated parmesan cheese onto it; 4 - cover it with bread crumbs; 5 - drizzle with more olive oil. 
Bake them in the oven at 180°C for about 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the breadcrumbs have turned golden and crunchy. Serve them immediately, on their own or with some crusty, white bread.



Cecilia said...

Well as I was there at your place and got the honor to taste them I can definitely recommend them! they were so scrumptious! :)

Focaccia al Rosmarino said...

Thank you, Cecia! I am pleased you liked them. I will soon post also the recipe of the octopus salad ;-)