I have had a craving for seafood and fish lately and there seems to be a little more variety at the local markets since it is the Lenten season where fish is often eaten in place of meat. My husband brought home a nice, fresh bag of mussels for the weekend. When we were first married and living in New Jersey, we went out for mussels often with relatives. We ordered them in garlicky marinara sauce with lots of fresh Italian bread to soak up the delicious juices. Now, I regularly make them at home. I usually prepare them with a marinara or shallot cream sauce or both if I am feeling ambitious (see my first post for those recipes.) But I wanted something a little simpler this week, so we made stuffed mussels. They are so good. The recipe also works for clams. Make sure when you buy mussels that they are not completely sealed in a bag. The mussels need air so let them sit in the refrigerator open and use them within a day for the freshest flavor.
1-1/2 lbs. black mussels, scrubbed and debearded, throw away any cracked shells
3/4 c. white wine
1/2 large lemon, halved
3/4 c. Progresso Italian-style breadcrumbs
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1/2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. mussel cooking liquid or more to moisten breadcrumbs
1/4-1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
In a 5-quart stockpot place the cleaned mussels. Add the wine, squeeze the juice of the lemon over the mussels and add the lemon to the pot. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and let the mussels cook for 7-10 minutes until the mussels open. Remove from heat. Discard any closed mussels because they are dead. Save 1/2 c. mussel cooking liquid for the breadcrumb mixture. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place mussels on the half shell on the baking sheet. Discard the top shell. In a bowl combine breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, oregano, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add 1/4 c. mussel cooking liquid to moisten the breadcrumbs. You may need a bit more. You don’t want the crumbs really wet, just moist and begin to clump together. Top each mussel on the half shell with 1 teaspoon or more of breadcrumbs to almost cover the mussels. Drizzle enough olive oil over the breadcrumbs so they are moist and wet, but not soaked in oil. Turn oven onto low broil setting. Place mussels under the broiler for 4 minutes or until the breadcrumb mixture turns golden and begins to crisp up. Be careful not to burn them and do not over cook as the mussels have already been steamed prior to stuffing. Serves 4 as an appetizer.