I love mussels. They remind me of when I was a kid and used to spend my summers in Abruzzo, at my grandparents house. My uncle had a small boat and we would go not far from the coast, where he knew there were rocks at the bottoms, not too deep. We would put masks, fins and gloves on and dive to catch them right from the rocks.
We would then throw them onboard and later, after having a bunch, meticulously clean them of their “beards”, or as my grandma use to call it “tobacco”, hair-like filaments that help them anchor to the rocks. Today it’s way easier to go buy them already cleaned and ready to be cooked. Just make sure they are fresh. Here in the US, you find mussels from Prince Edward Island, a beautiful island near Labrador. Probably the best mussels of this side of the Ocean. Sorry, but they can’t compete with the ones from the Mediterranean Sea. Here is my recipe, in Italy you would call it “Impepata di Cozze”. Very simple, as usual. But second to none in terms of flavor.
- 2 lbs PEI Mussels
- 5 Cloves of Garlic
- Black Pepper
- 1/2 Lemon
- Dry Chili Pepper
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Take a nice casserole, add the EVOO and the garlic. Turn the flame to medium low and let the garlic get dark golden. Add a bunch of finely chopped parsley and some crushed dry chili pepper. True the flame to high and add the mussels. Stir and cover with a lid. As soon as they start to open, squeeze the half lemon and throw it in the pot.
Let it go for 5-10 minutes until all the mussels are open. Don’t let them overcook, or they’ll become chewy, dry and small. Take them off the stove and bring them to the table after sprinkling them with fresh finely chopped parsley.
Have some bread at hand, the juice is amazing for “scarpetta”.