Last Night’s Dinner: Mussel and White Bean Stew

DSC_0397 Mussel and White Bean Stew

For dinner last night, I was looking to make something quick and easy. But I also wanted to make something wholesome (it was cold and raining yesterday) and healthy (call it a preemptive strike against the impending eating holiday season). That’s not always an easy combination to pull off, but a quick search on the Food & Wine website led me to this recipe for Mussel and White Bean Stew – perfect.

I made a couple of tweaks to the recipe, namely by using pre-shucked mussels and adding onions and canned tomato. All in all, it was a good dish and took very little time to pull together. Just what I was looking for.

Mussel and White Bean Stew
Adapted from Food & Wine
Serves 4

 

3/4 pound mussels, pre-shucked
3/4 cup dry sherry
3/4 cup dry white wine
4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 tspn paprika
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small red chili pepper, finely diced
1 14-ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes
Two 14-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt & Pepper
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Crusty bread, for serving

 

In a deep skillet, combine the sherry, wine and mussels. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the mussels and reserve. Strain the broth and reserve 1 cup.

Wipe out the skillet and heat 2 TBSP olive oil. Add the onions, season with salt and sweat for 5 minutes. Add the paprika, garlic, and chili and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the remaining 2 TBSP olive oil, tomatoes, beans and broth, season with salt and pepper, bring to a low simmer and cook for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the mussels and parsley, heat through and season with salt and pepper as necessary.

Serve with crusty bread.

* * *

This “Last Night’s Dinner”-style post may or may not become something of a regular feature here on the blog. Ideally, these posts will only feature simple and somewhat basic recipes – the kind that I look to when I don’t have much time or energy to put a lot of effort into dinner – and will likely be based on recipes from other sources or just a regular staple from my repertoire.

No promises though. As the header of my blog says, “Sometimes I write about it.”

Mussel Week at Belga Café

Photo by Andrew Crimini

If you know me, you know that I love mussels. If you don’t know me, well, I love mussels. So, it’s no surprise that Mussel Week at Belga Café caught my eye. From February 23rd – March 3rd (that’s right now!), the Eastern Market Restaurant is featuring a special mussels-themed menu, which includes a selection of starters, main dishes, and big old pots of mussels. It’s an à la carte menu, so customers are free to pick and choose items in addition to the restaurant’s regular offerings.

Moules Frites: From Good to Gone

As noted the other day, I had plans to go to Bistrot du Coin for the anual Dining Out For Life fundraiser. I know that Bistrot du Coin is not the epitomy of high-end French cuisine, but I love the place. Great atmosphere, tasty French bistro food, a good value, and best of all, a variety of moules frites. I order a bucket every time, and on Thursday night we had the Moules Roquefort.

Perhaps the best part of the dish is the cream sauce that’s leftover once the mussels are gone. If it was socially acceptable, I’d get all Sideways and drink directly from the bucket. Luckily, we had plenty of bread for dipping. And, our waiter taught us a neat little trick involving a fork and a shell. So, I give you the end of our meal, as a progression, in photos (sorry for the poor quality, the iPhone camera has it’s limits).

Step 1 - Eat all of the mussels

Step 1 - Eat all of the mussels

Step 2 - Attach shell to fork

Step 2 - Attach shell to fork

Step 3 - Scoop up some sauce

Step 3 - Scoop up some sauce

Step 4 - And you're done

Step 4 - And you're done

Review: Brasserie Beck

I finally made it to Brasserie Beck. I know, it’s been open for a year. I’m a bit slow on the uptake, clearly. But while the restaurant is located on K Street, I don’t work for a K Street firm, so give me a break. Nevertheless, it was worth the  wait.

Even if the food was horrible, which it most definitely was not, I’d still be hard pressed to give Brasserie Beck a bad review. The space and atmosphere is great and the staff is one of the restaurant’s best assets. The design combines classic European bistro elements with a high ceilings, mirrors, and plenty of glass, giving it a bit of a modern industrial touch. It’s open, but intimate at the same time. And kudos to the design team for the open kitchen, which you pass by on your way to your table. As for the staff, you can tell from the moment you walk through the door, they want you to be there, they want you to enjoy your visit, and they want you to come back. Whether it’s the host, waitstaff, or bartender, they are all there to help.   Continue reading

Recipe: Mussels in Creamy White Wine Sauce

In advance of my much anticipated visit to Brasserie Beck tonight, I thought I’d share a recipe that I’ve been working on in recent years.  I first learned to cook mussels when I lived in Martha’s Vineyard for a summer back in 2002.  We used to go to one of the public beaches with a cooler and pick a few pounds of mussels right off the rocks.  My first recipe was fairly simple and consisted mainly of onions, carrots, celery, wine, lemon and butter. I’ve taken more of a French approach recently and have come up with the following basic recipe for mussels in creamy white wine sauce. The sauce makes for great dipping, so be sure to eat it with slices of baguette or crispy bread.

 

Here’s a photo of my most recent attempt at this recipe.

 

Mussels in creamy white wine sauce

Time: 40 minutes

Serves: 6-8

 

2 leeks: ends removed, halved, sliced

2 medium sized shallots: finely chopped

2 garlic cloves: finely chopped

4 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper to taste

3/4 cup dry white wine (I prefer pinot gris or pinot blanc)

1/2 cup cream

3 pounds mussels, cleaned and with beards removed

 

Thoroughly rinses the mussels, tossing out any that won’t close, and set aside.

 

Start by sweating the leeks and shallots with 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan over medium. Cook for 2-3 minutes and add the garlic, salt, and pepper and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a simmer, cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the cream and remaining butter, cook the sauce until it has reduced to a medium-to-thick texture. The sauce should stick to a spoon.

 

Heat a large pot to medium. Add the mussels and stir in the sauce. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes or until the mussels have opened.

 

Serve the mussels and sauce in either one large bowl or smaller individual bowls along with basket of sliced baguette for dipping.