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April 19th,
2011
written by Loren

Look for the red steer

I’m going to start this out with something I don’t think I’ve ever said before, and I hope Arty doesn’t revoke my posting privileges for saying it: this recipe might have been better without the bacon. *cringes* It’s not an easy thing to say. Partly because I made it with the BEST BACON EVER! Quick aside:

I was introduced to this bacon at a young age. It comes from a small town around Lake Mille Lacs in northern Minnesota, called Pierz. This bacon is amazing. Inspiring. Life-affirming. You must try it. Don’t believe me? Go check out this write-up in the New York Times. Everything she writes is true, it is the perfect balance of thick and thin, meat and fat, smoky and delicate flavor. My dad and I made a point to make the 40 minute trip once a month to make sure the freezer was always stocked with this manna from heaven. Now the Lund’s in Uptown carries it, although I don’t know how far their distribution has spread outside Minneapolis. Either way, order yourself a pound or ten (they will ship it from the website, I’m pretty sure).

Back to the recipe at hand: the next time I make this, I think I’ll be using pancetta. In this case, the smoke flavor just did not marry well with the white wine/tomato/basil flavoring. Ingredients:

  • 4lb fresh mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
  • 1/2lb smoked bacon (I will use pancetta from now on)
  • 2-3 medium shallots
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 1.5 cups white wine
  • 1 can (~20 oz) of diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the bacon in the pot (remember, it has to be big enough to hold all them mussels), then remove it to a plate. Add the sliced shallots and minced garlic to the pan. When the shallots are translucent and before they really brown, add the wine to deglaze the pan, stirring to incorporate the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and juice form the can and let everything simmer on medium-low for about 10 minutes.

Now it’s time to add the mussels. Standard disclaimer when working with bivalves: look for any ones which are open. Tap them or squeeze them a few times; if they don’t close on their own, toss ’em. Add the rest to the pot, shake them around and stick the cover on. Put on the lid and let them steam for about 6 minutes, then check for doneness. Step one is are they all open. If yes, give one a try to see if it’s done correctly. They might need another few minutes, but probably not much more than that. Add in the tablespoon of butter, and chiffonade the basil then stir that in as well. Remember to get a good amount of that wonderful sauce in the bowls with the mussels, and serve some nice crusty bread with dinner to sop it up with. ¬†Enjoy!

 

Think I will have to make this again soon...

 

1 Comment

  1. Arthur
    04/20/2011

    OK, yes, you said something disparaging about bacon, BUT you are replacing it with pancetta. A delicious option.

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