2012/02/16

At least I didn't have to shave a mustache... (FFwD: Mussels w/ Cajun Sausage)

Usually when food has hair on it, that's a bad thing. However, this week's FFwD started with debearding mussels. Mother of Pearl, why???











Now. debearding isn't quite as traumatic as...let's say...spatchcocking, but it was kind of annoying (fortunately, services of The Karate Kid/ Culinary Student were utilized, so I only had to spend HALF as much time pulling smelly hairy stuff off the mussels with cold-numbed fingers - I owe  her on this one).

Note to self: next time, just use clams. They don't have beards.

Once I was done being annoyed, the rest was pretty simple. 

We had some of this sausage in the freezer which I subbed in since Andouille is not readily available in this neck of the woods. Aaaaannnndddd, I used a whole pound. A half pound seemed kind of wimpy next to four pounds of mussels. Just sayin'


Anyhoo, once we had scrubbed down the pasta, the rest of the dish went very quickly. We went the a'la pasta route and made a meal out of it. After dinner, I fished the rest of the little guys out of their shells; and then I tossed them and the leftover pasta into the sauce. It was lunch for the next three days.

Lessons learned:
  1. Mussels may be tasty, but they are a pain in the butt. Go for the clams.
  2. To make this dish even quicker - throw shrimp in the end. Skip the shells altogether.
  3. A 5.5 quart Dutch oven is not the right size pot for 4 pounds of mussels. I should have brought out the 9-quarter.
  4. Teenage helpers can be very useful. I highly recommend borrow, begging or stealing one for things like this. (Make sure you give them back, though. Upkeep can be a little steep...)
  5. Don't wear a light colored shirt that you like. Fishing those little guys out of their shells is not for the clean at heart.
  6. Oh, and I used beer instead of wine. The Sam Adams was calling my name...
FFwD members does not share recipes posted, but other bloggers adaptations can be found here and here.

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie. Come check out what everyone else has "mussel-ed" together this week.

Hope everyone "States-side" has a safe and relaxing holiday weekend - totally loving a Monday off from work in the middle of February. Although, I do remember when I was a child we used to get TWO days off for the President's birthdays... (I am showing my age, aren't I?)

38 comments:

  1. Good for you Cher for tackling this one! Mine is a VERY loose adaptation this week and I didn't even eat it! Happy Presidents' Day!

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  2. Oh weird! Mine didn't have beards, thank god. Live shellfish kind of skeeves me out, so the less I have to handle it, the better. I agree, though--this would be great with shrimp or clams, too.

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  3. I made mine exactly as written and it was bliss. I was going to try Pernod the next time but now you have me thinking about Sam Adams!

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  4. Seriously had never heard of mussel beards prior to this moment. Yet another FFWD I'll miss. Sigh. Nonetheless, the beardless pasta looks delish!

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  5. I have heard that only wild mussels have beards on them, so if you are able to find cultivated mussels in the future that might fix your beard problem. Mine were wild too so I had to debeard them, but I only bought enough mussels for two so it didn't take nearly as long (a good thing since I don't have any teenagers around to beg, borrow or steal).

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    1. I kind of live in the hinterlands and with things like this it's a case of "you get what you get" - in this case, it was beards... But now that you mention cultivated, I will have to keep my eye open.

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  6. I bought mine quick frozen on the half-shell, so they were already shaved, thank God! They do look prettier with two shells here, though....so maybe next time, I'll have to brave it and buy fresh and wild (ok, that sounds odd). :)

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  7. Love the shrimp idea! I was not such a fan of the mussles themsleves, but loved the sauce.

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  8. I was also weirded out by the beards on the mussels. Good tip on the shrimp!

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  9. LOVE your using the Cajun style sausage and beer - the wheels are already turning in my head. I was lucky most of my mussels were already clean. Debearding five pounds of mussels would have definitely killed my good mood on Tuesday. Have a great long weekend!

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  10. I had my husband clean and wash mine. My mussels were pretty clean already, lol! We really enjoyed the final dish! I served it for Valentines Day...they are a favorite of my husbands. I bet shrimp would be wonderful in this dish! Funny post! Have a great weekend!

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  11. LOL, I dont like to freeze my fingers off either, so I just fill a bowl with the mussels and some cold water and sit at the counter to de-beard and it is much more pleasant that way! :) I think its a bit therapeutic to de-beard, but then I havent made more than two pounds at a time. Love your use of teenagers and beer! LOL!

    Alice @ http://acookingmizer.wordpress

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    1. In retrospect, the combination of teenagers & beer probably sounds REALLY bad. Note to children: the alcohol cooks out - you aren't getting any special deal... Mom is still a hard-nose.

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  12. I bet it was delicious with beer! I like the large chunks of sausage in yours. I must try that next time. I think this would be great with a mixture of seafood and meat to make it almost like a paella, but with pasta instead of rice.

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  13. Well, after reading a few of these...when I catch up on this recipe, I'm going for the shrimp idea. (It's hard to find fresh mussels in AZ...lots of beach here but no ocean.) Love your post.

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  14. I know where to go when I need a smile on Friday morning. Those buggers are quite a bit of work with scrubbing and debearding, and I tend to be with you on going the clam route, but I do LOVE green-lip mussels when I can find them.

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  15. Love the beer idea, too.
    Peggy

    http://adoptsomom.wordpress.com/

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  16. I was lucky enough to find pre-shaven mussels! Since I have no teens its a good thing. I only used 2 pounds of mussels as I wasn't sure how we were going to feel about them. Enjoy your holiday!

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  17. I feel so lazy, I bought groomed mussels. I don't know if you have a Bristol Farms in your area, but sometimes they have some beautiful groomed New Zealand Mussels. I do love clams and pasta though!

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  18. My mussels were clean-shaven. I don't know if someone else did the work before I bought them or if they were that way naturally. Now I'm feeling lucky. I agree this would be good with other seafood too.
    I remember when we got off for both Lincoln and Washington's birthday. I was trying to explain the Presidents Day holiday to my colleagues in India which included the memory of two days off instead of one. No one else on the call had the same memory as I'm the only team member who grew up in the US. Enjoy the holiday!

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  19. de-bearding mussels just sounds funny. Not everyone can say that's how they spent their afternoon. :) Who knew that's what you had to do to the little buggers?? I've never prepared them-- only eaten them-- so this was news to me! The dish looks delicious though! I love your posts as always. :)

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  20. I'm so glad I didn't have to groom my dinner! Luckily the mussels at my grocery store came de-bearded!

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  21. I agree with the not fond of grooming!

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  22. Too funny, love the lessons learned! Yeah, the debearding was not really fun. I like the idea of shrimp, I will have to try that!

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  23. Oh yess, I love mussels, and I love chorizo. Loved the lessons learned, made me smile. =] Have a great weekend! <3

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  24. sorry these were so much work! the Costco ones come de-bearded, a couple had shaggy bits that I snipped off, but the rest were great. I loved the sauce, and would love to try with some other sausages. I have my eye on that 9 quart pot, and maybe a 4 quart too, LOL. Your look great and I'm looking forward to having a beer again in a month or two, so the Sam Adams comment made my mouth water.

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  25. I have never debearded a mussel, and now I am sure I don't want to! Shrimp sounds like an excellent substitute.

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  26. Happy Presidents Week-end to you. Love Washington and Lincoln, for that. And, I salute your kids for eating mussels, something mine have yet to do. (And, they are no longer teen-agers and, yes, they are expen$ive. Pot was too small, you're right, even without the sausage. Glad that you stretched it for soooooo many days. Making your salmon patties next week.

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  27. Mine weren't too hard to clean, but I suspect the fishmonger cleaned them up a bit before they put them on display. Beer would be nice in this, too, perhaps next time I'll try one of Kevin's gluten-free beers.

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  28. They were a bit of a pain to clean. I wasn't sure if they would pop open pulling on those little beards. Already pealed & deveined shrimp would be perfect with the sauce. Enjoy your day off tomorrow :)

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  29. I remember Julia Child on TV instructing about how to de-beard a mussel. I always imagined them as having little goatees, but it's more of a string than a beard. I think one's whole attitude toward mussels might depend on how beardy they are.

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  30. Love your list of lessons learned, Cher! Thank goodness mine were almost 100% debearded when I purchased them :) Glad you enjoyed these, too~

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  31. Every Christmas Eve when my sister in law was visiting from CA, it was her "job" to clean
    the mussels This year, after many years, we decided to move the Feast of the Seven Fishes
    to Vermont at Tricia's place. Since the sister in law was not visiting this year, I had a
    horrible thought as to who would clean the damn mussels. Not me, that's for sure.
    I only do Baccala salad and barbecue shrimp. Thank God, Tricia's husband is such a
    doll. Your dish looks delicious, and we enjoyed this as well.

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  32. Most of my mussels were beardless, so they were super easy to put together. Those sausages look quite tasty!

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  33. I hated cleaning the mussels too, it took forever. You're lucky you had kitchen helpers!

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  34. Wow Cher, did you get wild mussels instead of farmed ones? I remember reading that farmed mussels are a lot easier to clean. I barely found any with beards in my 6lb. Great that you had extra help though! Sam Adams sounds like a fine substitution. Shrimp! Now that's a great idea.

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  35. I skipped this one since we are not seafood lovers in my house, but glad you braved it.

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