One of our favorite restaurants in DC, that happens to be just down the street, is a mussel-centric gastropub called Dr. Granville Moore’s. They have delicious and creative mussels at reasonable prices and an extensive beer collection. What’s not to love?
They will mix mussels with just about anything, and it all works. Blue cheese and bacon is they’re most famous combination that doesn’t seem like it would work, but it absolutely does. They even beat Bobby Flay in a mussel throwdown, though he seems to always lose. And to those of you who think that a meal consisting of just mussels, a sauce, some wonderful fries and a little bread, you are so wrong it’s sad. I’m crying you’re so wrong.
We often make mussels at home because it’s so quick, easy and delicious. To take up the Granville mantle of mussel creativity, we decided to make mussels all’amatriciana. Amatriciana is an Italian sauce, usually served over bucatini pasta or spaghetti. Tomato and bacon are the main components.
We started by chopping a 1/2 pound of thick cut bacon and frying it on low till it just barely started to brown.
We threw in the onions and 4 cloves of garlic, and letting the onions sweat and the garlic brown a little. They cooked for 3-4 minutes as the bacon continued to render its delicious fat. We diced 3/4′s of the tomatoes, and threw them in the pot, making sure to reserve 1/4 of them as garnish. A cup of white wine went in as well to ensure there was enough steam to cook the mussels. We let it all cook down a little for about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. You won’t have to salt the mussels. They are already salty.
To prepare the mussels, just make sure you remove the little stringy beard that is sometimes stuck in the crevice of the mussels’ shells. This is often already removed. Any mussels that are open and do not close in reaction to you clamping their shells shut are dead, and should not be eaten. Only cook living mussels, which have the ability to hold their shells shut until you steam them. Then they die, and their shells open. Get over it. We are way above them on the food chain. They don’t even have spines. Or eyes.
The mussels went in next.
We stirred it all together to let the bits of tomato, onion, garlic and bacon to sneak into the mussels’ shells as they opened. As soon as mussels start to open, they are done. This only take 2-5 minutes. Stir them a little bit more and put them in a bowl to serve.
Chop the reserved 1/4 of tomatoes and the parsley. Sprinkle them over the top of the cooked mussels.
Discard any unopened mussels. They are not good for you. Serve with a loaf of fresh bread. Use the bread to soak up extra mussel broth, and use an empty mussel shell as a pincer to pick out the mussel meat from other shells.
Serve with two bowls and no utensils. One bowl is for the mussels and sauce, and one is to discard the shells.
- 1/2 pound thick cut bacon (regular bacon is fine, if you’re a sucker)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 pounds of tomatoes, chopped, 1/4 reserved for garnish
- 1 cup of white wine
- 3 pounds of mussels, cleaned, and discard any mussels that won’t close after pressing the shells together
- 1 loaf of fresh Italian or French bread
- Bunch of parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste