Steamed mussels are one of my favorite dinners to make at home because (1) people are always impressed (2) it’s fast and easy (3) it is so dang good.
Add this one to my collection of recipes that work for both quick weeknight dinners and for a dinner party. This rendition of Mussels with Cherry Tomatoes and Chorizo is efficient and elegant without being difficult or time-consuming.
The very important broth can be dressed up many ways, and this time it’s jazzed up with cherry tomatoes and fresh, sweet summer corn. This will offset the smoky, browned bits of chorizo. The chorizo is key here, adding flavor, body, and color. You’d think a little saffron (wink, wink) fell into the pot considering the resulting deep yellow-orange color of the broth, but it’s the chorizo. And to do justice to this broth, make sure to have plenty of bread and wine on hand.
This is just the thing I want to eat on a late summer night.
My favorite wine with mussels is a classic pairing for shellfish: Muscadet. Something like a Sauvignon Blanc, Torrontes or Vinho Verde would be great, too. In this version of steamed mussels, chorizo and tomatoes make rosé a good choice if you have that instead. And if you’re not into wine, mussels go down great with beer.
Some tips for working with mussels: My strong preference is to buy mussels on the same day I plan on cooking them; you can find advice online for properly storing them for days in the fridge or ask your fishmonger but I find it easier just to pick up the mussels that day and keep them on ice while I chop and prep the rest of the meal. When you get home, unwrap the packaging so the mussels can breathe. Sort through your mussels and toss any with cracked shells. A lot of the mussels will have a ‘beard’ on one side. Tug on this tuft until it breaks off, and discard. Almost all the shells will be closed when you purchase them. If a shell is open, tap it on the counter and it’ll slowly close if the mussel is still alive. After you’ve cooked your mussels, discard any that didn’t open. And, I can’t stress enough, make sure you have plenty of bread to dip into the broth.
Mussels with Cherry Tomatoes and Chorizo
This recipe is easily halved to serve two—or doubled. The cooking time will just vary a bit, and keep in mind you’ll want to stick to about 1 pound of mussels per person. I toast my bread in a small skillet slicked with olive oil while the mussels are cooking, but you can also toast your bread ahead of time.
2 ounces dried Spanish chorizo, casing removed, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
kernels from 1 ear of fresh corn
¾ cup dry white wine
Freshly ground black pepper
4 pounds mussels, scrubbed, debearded
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or parsley
a baguette, toasted in thick slices, for serving
Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot (such as a Dutch oven) over medium heat, add chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chorizo becomes brown and crispy, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and fennel seeds and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, corn and wine, and bring to a simmer. Season with a big pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook until broth reduces slightly, stirring once or twice, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add mussels. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shells open, 6 to 8 minutes. About halfway through, stir in most of the chopped tarragon. While the mussels cook, now is a good time to fry up your toast in a nearby skillet. Serve mussels in shallow bowls with the rest of the tarragon and plenty of toast nearby. Discard any mussels that don’t open.
(Recipe adapted from Chris Morocco via Bon Appetit.)