February 11, 2013

Cast Iron Skillet Roasted Mussels with Endive & Celery



Ingredients:
4 lb mussels
3 sprigs' worth thyme leaves
1 endive, sliced thinly
1 onion, halved and sliced thinly
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced (with leaves)
1 large clove garlic, halved and sliced thinly
3/4-1 cup dry white wine or seafood stock
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt



Directions:
Preheat oven to 400. Arrange the mussels in a single layer (or as close to a single layer as you can) in a large cast iron (I used my 14-inch) skillet. Sprinkle with remaining ingredients. Roast for 15 minutes, turning the mussels once, or until the mussels are opened. Discard any unopened mussels. Serve immediately.



My thoughts:
I have a habit of buying seafood to have for that night's dinner when I go grocery shopping. It spoils more quickly than other meat so I like to get and use it right way, lest I forget and it spoils or dies in vain. Mussels go on sale frequently (often under $4 or even $3 per 2lb bag)and the store nearly always have them so they are often my default pick. Luckily, I am a big fan of mussels (in fact one of the main reasons we went to Belgium a few years ago was for the excuse to eat mussels, fries, waffles and chocolate for days on end. And as it turns out, snails.) and they are so simple to make, I can make them even when I'm agitated and exhausted from shopping. They are a great way to use up leftover odds and ends in the fridge as well. I had a single head of (Belgian!) endive I threw in the pan and it was great, slightly crisp and it flavored the broth nicely. I had only steamed mussels before but I was in the mood for something different and figured if you could grill mussels, surely you could roast them. Luckily I was correct! Not only can you roast mussels, you should roast mussels. They get this lovely smoky flavor too them and the broth seems even more intensely flavored than it is when the mussels are steamed. You do need a big cast iron skillet (or paella pan, I bet, but I don't have one of those) or you will have to work in batches. It is worth it, the flavor is unparalleled. Just be careful turning the mussels, especially if like me, you get the bright idea to try to do this while the mussels are still in the oven.