We had some complicated dishes planned, so we wanted some simple ones as well.
Mussels are really quick and easy to cook, and the cooking liquid is good with some crusty bread. The first time I had these was on my first trip to Ireland, where I was thankful to learn the trick to eating them: no utensils required ! The mussels open up while cooking, so you simply pull the shell apart, and use the top part of the shell to separate the meat of the mussel from the shell, and scoop it into your mouth ! Trying to use a fork or spoon is just an exercise in frustration.
Steamed Mussels with Garlic and White Wine
Get fresh mussels from your local seafood shop. Normally they will have cleaned them, but make sure all the "beards" are removed from the outsides. Rinse them, and remove any with open shells.
In a large skillet, melt a stick of butter, and add 8-9 smashed cloves of garlic. Saute slowly until the garlic is lightly browned and soft. Add 1 cup of white wine and bring to a simmer. Add mussels, stir and put a lid on the skillet. Let them simmer on low 5-7 minutes until the mussels open up. Throw away any that don't open, as they are spoiled.
While they are cooking, you can chop some fresh parsley for a garnish, and slice some crusty bread. Pour the mussels and the broth in a large bowl, and share.
Now I have a confession to make...
You can buy frozen mussels at the store, that are quite good, if you can't get fresh where you live. And we did that, at Christmas, to save time. And money, they were only $2.99 for a pound !