A deliciously easy make-ahead appetizer!
This dish is always a hit whenever I serve it, even for people who are just learning to love shellfish. The garlicky herb butter and crisp breadcrumbs seem to remind people of garlic bread; it also makes me think of escargots (which I like, but not as much as I love mussels). As a bonus, you can easily steam the mussels and prepare them for the oven up to 24 hours ahead of time, so all they need is a quick trip under the broiler before serving. According to Prince Edward Island’s Mussel Industry Council, when purchasing fresh mussels, trust your nose – they should smell salty and fresh, just like the ocean. Check the attached tag for the ‘harvested on’ and ‘best by’ dates; if not at their ‘best by’ date yet, you can store in the fridge (but not in a plastic bag or sealed container – they’re alive!) for a day or two before cooking and eating.
- 1/2 cup (30 g) very finely minced fresh parsley leaves
- 2 large cloves garlic, very finely minced
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.5 g) kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon (.6 g) black pepper
- 2/3 cup (151 g) butter, at room temperature
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon (1.2 g) chili pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) white wine
- 2 pounds (900 g) fresh live mussels, rinsed and moss-like beards removed
- 1/3 cup (33 g) panko or other dry bread crumbs (use gluten-free if preferred)
- Fresh lemon wedges, to serve
- In a small bowl, combine parsley, garlic, salt, pepper and butter; stir until smooth. Set aside while you steam the mussels.
- Put shallot, chili flakes, white wine and 1/4 cup (60 mL) of water in a large stock pot with a tight lid. Cover and place over medium high heat. When just beginning to boil, add cleaned mussels; replace lid and cook over medium-high heat until mussels have opened, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer mussels to a colander and let cool for a minute or two. Discard any mussels whose shells are cracked or have not opened.
- Remove mussels from shells and set aside. Do not discard shells!
- Arrange half the empty mussel shells (I prefer to use the ones without the opaque adductor muscle attached) on a large ceramic baking dish or parchment-lined baking sheet (discard the other half shells). Place one mussel in each shell. Top each with a small spoonful of the garlic and herb butter followed by a sprinkle of panko.
- If not broiling immediately, cover the baking dish in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
- When ready to serve, heat broiler to high with an oven rack placed four inches below the broiler. Place the baking tray in the hot oven and broil until bread crumbs are golden, about 2 – 3 minutes.
- Serve directly from baking dish or divide among individual plates and serve hot, with lemon wedges on the side.
Serves 4 as an appetizer.
Note: Fresh PEI Mussels were provided for this dish by Pelican Seafood Market and Grill. Ideas, inspiration and opinions are, as always, my own.