Friday, May 2, 2014

Mussels Steamed in Beer with Fennel

I have an agreement with my boyfriend that for every beer we open together, I get the first sip. On our first date, we shared a beer at the Beaches Jazz Fest and he said, “the first sip of beer is always the best.” Since then I’ve taken the first sips of all the beers we’ve had, and that’s a lot of beer. One of my favourites is Sam Adams, in fact, I wouldn’t even share it, I’d make sure that we each have our own beer to drink. Good thing it's at the LCBO we can easily split a six-pack.

Mussels in beer have always been a special dish to me. Maybe it reminds me of a summer when I visited Montreal, a city that awoke my taste buds and bolstered my deep-seated interest to cook and bake. There was a restaurant that served mussels in beer with fresh cut fries, a classic Belgian dish. It was delicious, I wanted to slurp up the briny juices from my bowl. 

This dish can be made in less than 20 minutes. All you need to do is chop up fennel and onions, toss them into a pot with butter until softened, add the cleaned mussels, pour over the Sam Adams, and let it steam for about 5-8 minutes and viola! Dinner! 

My home smelled like hot butter, seafood and malt. Mom and I had these for dinner the other day, there was plenty of bread to mop up the salty juices. The mussels were plump and juicy, the fennel and onions had absorbed the hoppy flavours of the beer, the acidity from the lemon brings it all together. It was a beautiful meal, especially with a cold bottle of Sam Adams.

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Mussels Steamed in Beer with Fennel

Buy fresh mussels that have tightly closed shells and don’t smell fishy. When you are ready to cook the mussels, scrub the shells and debeard them by taking the ‘beard’ or thread that runs along the side of the shell and remove it by pulling it toward the hinge of the shell.

2 tablespoons butter
½ medium fennel, thinly sliced
½ medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2lbs mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 cup of Sam Adams Boston Lager
½ lemon

In a large pot, melt butter over high heat. Add the sliced fennel and onions and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add mussels and pour over the beer. Cover tightly with lid and cook until steam appears, about 7-9 minutes. Remove the lid, discard any mussels that do not open. Pour over the lemon juice.

Using slotting spoon, divide mussels among bowls. Pour juices over each bowl and season with sea salt and black pepper if desired.

Recipe here!

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