Louisiana Mussel “Sauce Piquante”

Flex Your Mussel Knowledge

I love mussels. We went to a party a few years ago and had mussels 3 ways (Tom & Barbara will remember that night!). Heaven! They are really easy and fast to prepare. You need lots of baguette to sop up all the lovely juices.

Years (and I mean years) ago, I was staying on the north fork of Long Island with my college roommate, Allegra, and her family. We swam out to a large rock with net bags tied to our waists (a bit slimmer then) and a knife and cut off the fresh mussels. We then made a wonderful shallot wine sauce for them. Talk about fresh! I will never forget it.

There are two rules about mussels, actually clams too. Never eat them if they are open before cooking, and never eat them if they are closed after cooking. These are dead mussels! R.I.P.

This recipe is in honor of the Saints. You’ve really got to try them.

Louisiana Mussel “Sauce Piquante”

Serves 2

2 lbs mussels (preferably cultivated)
1 medium onion
1 celery rib
1 small green bell pepper
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 tsp tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
14  to 16-ounce can whole tomatoes including juice
1/2 tsp cayenne
French or Italian bread

Scrub mussels well and remove beards. Finely chop onion, celery, and bell pepper. In a 6- to 8-quart heavy kettle melt butter over moderately low heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, stirring constantly, until color of peanut butter, about 6 minutes. Stir in vegetables and cook, covered, until soft. Stir in tomato paste, broth, tomatoes with juice, and cayenne and bring mixture to a boil, breaking up tomatoes. Simmer sauce, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes, or until thickened.

Stir mussels into sauce and simmer, covered, 4 to 8 minutes, or until mussels are opened. (Discard any unopened mussels after 8 minutes.) Divide mussels between 2 bowls.

Season sauce with salt and ladle over mussels. Serve bread on the side.

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