Friday, April 22, 2011

Tomato Garlic Mussels with Scallops, Shrimp and Chorizo

This, my friends, is an A-mazing recipe, easily adapted for a luxurious or a rather frugal dinner.  This is also a recipe to take the mystique out of cooking shellfish, and to show how cheaply, easily, and healthy it can be prepared, or conversely, how decadently and complicated a simple recipe can become.  Everyone thinks shellfish and seafood in general is so expensive, but did you know that mussels cost less than 3 dollars per pound?  You can adapt this recipe by leaving out the scallops and shrimp.  You can also add lobster or clams.

This recipe right here kind of strikes a balance.  It has many steps but please don't be scared off because all of the steps are EASY!  And can be prepared in small stages throughout the day if you don't have time to prepare it all at once.  I'll break it up into parts so you can separate if you'd like.  Also, seeing the steps separately helps to keep everything neater and more easily accessible so you can just throw things into a pot!

What you'll need:
1-2 pounds mussels
1/4 SHELL-ON shrimp
1/4 pound scallops
1/2 yellow onion
1 can peeled tomatoes (28 oz)
2 links of chorizo/sausage
a few tablespoons of heavy cream
3 garlic cloves
1 cup white wine

Roughly chop the onion, garlic, parsley and basil and set it aside.

Prep the shellfish
Shrimp: simply rinse.  By the way, notice how I mentioned the shrimp should be shell-on?  Well, that's because I experimented with my shrimp--I left half with their shells on and shelled the other half and the shell-on shrimp were SO much more moist and delicious and worth the little hassle of taking the shell off while eating.
Scallops:  You need to brine these delicious little sea creatures in very heavily salted water.  You get the water to be very salty by heating it first, then mixing in A LOT of salt.  Then, cool it down with ice cubes and place the scallops in there for about 10 minutes only when the water has cooled down so you don't cook the scallops while brining.
Mussels:  Clean the mussels by rinsing them twice under cold water (not hot, because you don't want to cook them).  Scrub them and try to get the beards off as much as you can. Then, let them sit in a pot of cold water for about an hour with a few tablespoons of baking soda.  That will help the mussels release any sand or grit inside.

Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the scallops.  Heat a touch of oil (preferably vegetable or canola oil and not olive oil) in a cast iron pan and put the scallops in alongside the chorizo.  Cook the scallops 3 minutes on each side and then remove everything to a plate.
 Next, add the onions to the same pan with the chorizo fat and leftover oil.  Do NOT clean the pan--all the flavor is in the pan!
When the onions begin to sweat, add the garlic.  When the garlic smells wonderful and cooks through, add the tomatoes and crush them with the back of a wooden spoon.  Then, add the herbs, the white wine and salt and pepper. 
Let it sit uncovered for about ten minutes until the alcohol has evaporated.  Then, put in the mussels and shrimp.  
COVER for about 3-5 minutes until the shrimp are opaque and the mussels have opened.  The mussels are an excellent timer because they let you know exactly when they are done!  (See how easy this is?!)
Then, toss in the scallops and chorizo (which you need to cut into smaller pieces) to re-warm them and a touch of heavy cream to make the sauce creamy.  Serve with crusty bread and the rest of that wine!
I learned a new trick: put a rolled up paper napkin under one part of the plate so the sauce only goes to one side and doesn't get the bread soggy (although that's yummy) and the other side dishes you serve with this (although it doesn't need any) don't mix.

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