Recipe courtesy of Ginspired: The Ultimate Gin Cookbook by Heather E. Wilson and Kate Dingwall
Mussels are a staple where Heather lives. In fact, PEI blue mussels are world-famous – if you can get some, we highly suggest you snatch them up. As someone who has cooked many, many mussels, Heather can tell you that the trick to NOT overcooking your mussels is to try and cook them in a deep skillet in one single layer. DO NOT use a big pot and just dump them all in on top of each other. If you do, the bottom ones will be overcooked and the top ones will be undercooked.
Using a deep skillet (such as the Meyer one we used in the photo) prevents this from happening. At most, you want two layers. Cook them in batches to keep them to one to two layers.
Be sure to save the sauce or juices for dipping. It’s meant to be thin – it’s mostly melted butter and gin after all. Dip each mussel in it and then you can also dip your bread in it. Yummyyy! Save any extra sauce to make chowder or risotto.
Adding gin to your mussels really gives them a unique taste. Traditionally, wine or beer is used to steam mussels, so why not gin?! Give it a try. We used Monkey 47 with our mussels, but you could also use a gin with a strong citrus note. As a gin lover, we just know this will be your new favourite mussel recipe.
lb PEI Mussels (about 4 dozen)
cup fresh parsley, packed
cup pitted green olives or olives with pimentos
tbsp olive brine
cloves of garlic, minced
cup olive oil
lemon, zested and juiced
cup butter, plus 3 tablespoons
small onions, chopped
tsp fresh ground pepper
cup dry vermouth
Wash, debeard, and scrub the mussels as follows: Place the mussels in a colander in the sink and run cool water over them. Using your hands or a clean scrubbing brush, rub off any debris like seaweed, sand, barnacles, or mud spots that could be on the shell. Use a knife to gently remove any beards. If you find any mussels with open shells, lightly tap that mussel against the side of the sink. If it closes, keep it. If it stays open, discard (DO NOT EAT).
Set the mussels aside.
Using a food processor, finely chop the parsley, olives, olive brine, garlic, and lemon zest. Pour in ¼ cup of olive oil and the lemon juice and process into a pesto.
In a large, deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid, melt ¼ cup of butter over medium-high heat.
Add the onions and cook until softened, 5 - 6 minutes. Season the onions with salt and pepper. Stir in the pesto.
Add the gin and vermouth. Stir and cook until reduced, about 1 minute.
Add the mussels in one layer, if possible, cover and steam until opened, 6 - 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Discard any unopened mussels.
Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter to the mussels and shake the pan to melt it into the sauce (this is a thin sauce).
Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the mussels and place them in a serving dish. Pour the sauce into a separate dish for dipping. Serve with the bread for mopping.
To eat, remove a mussel from the shell, dip it in the sauce and pop it in your mouth!
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