Mussels and Braised Vegetables
Serve this fabulous appetizer warm, at room temperature or cold. In summertime, Chef Michel Troisgros likes to serve it cold. When the chef peels the halved red and yellow bell peppers on video, it looks so easy. But his knife is razor sharp. A tip for the home cook: Purchase peppers that are round and smooth, rather than deeply indented, slice off top and bottom and remove core and seeds. Then peel the peppers whole using a sharp vegetable peeler, before you julienne and dice them. The scoop on mussels: Buy cultivated mussels, free of grit and barnacles and — usually — sand. They have a more delicate flavor than wild mussels. The mussels may be slightly open but should not be gaping wide. Tap two together and, if alive, they will close in less than a minute. Mussels that are closed and almost weightless are probably empty; discard them. Do not store mussels in fresh tap water as they will die. Store in a shallow container, refrigerated and covered with a clean, wet towel. Do not clean until ready to cook. Clean, just before cooking, by scrubbing shells under cold running water, and pulling off the beard — that little bunch of hairs sticking out of the shell — with your fingers. After steaming mussels, discard any that have not fully opened. Small cultivated mussels, sold by the pound, can yield 18 to 24 mussels per pound.
- Carrot - 1, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
- Green Onion - 1 medium, trimmed,white part only, thinly sliced
- Red Bell Pepper - 1, seeded, cored, peeled, julienned and diced
- Yellow Bell Pepper - 1, seeded, cored, peeled, julienned and diced
- Garlic - 2 cloves, peeled, diced and pureed against side of knife
- Thyme - 3 sprigs fresh
- Bay Leaf - 1, large
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 4 tablespoons, divided
- Tomato paste - 2 tablespoons
- Sherry Vinegar - 1/4 cup
- Tabasco - Three dashes or to taste
- Mussels - 3 pounds small to medium cultivated mussels, scrubbed, rinsed, debearded
- Dry white wine - 2 cups
- Tarragon - 2 tablespoons fresh leaves, chopped
After vegetables are cut up and prepared, place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 2-1/2 quart non-reactive saucepan. Heat over medium-high; add vegetables, thyme and bay leaf. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft but not browned, about 10 minutes. During the last minute or two of cooking, stir in 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1/4 cup Sherry vinegar and several dashes of Tabasco. Add 1 additional tablespoon of the olive oil, if needed. Continue cooking, stirring constantly. (If vegetables finish cooking before mussels are steamed, reduce heat to low or remove from heat.)
While vegetables are cooking, place cleaned, debearded mussels in a non-reactive 12-inch or larger skillet or saute pan. Add 2 cups of dry white wine. Cover and let steam over high heat, stirring once or twice, until they have opened, 8 to 10 minutes.Discard any unopened mussels. Remove mussels with a slotted spoon to a separate clean pan. Strain mussel cooking liquid into pan with vegetables.
Bring vegetables-mussel liquid mixture to a boil and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half. (You should have about two cups of liquid.)
To serve: Divide steamed mussels into four individual large shallow bowls, arranging in concentric rings. Sprinkle each bowl with some of the chopped tarragon.Scoop out vegetables from liquid with a slotted spoon and distribute evenly on top of mussels in bowls. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the vegetable-mussel liquid in the pan. Puree with a hand-immersion blender. (Or transfer broth to a food processor and puree.) Spoon vegetable broth, divided equally, over each bowl. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. To chill, cover each bowl and refrigerate.