Gratin of mussels

tomatoes, carrots, eschalots musselsThe cook’s companion, 824pp.
by Stephanie Alexander
Viking, Penquin Books Australia, Ringwood, Victoria, 1996
Cooking on page 432

Stephanie Alexander is one of Australia’s most highly regarded chefs. She learnt to cook at her mother’s side and spent many decades in professional kitchens.

She was inspired to produce this cookbook to support people (especially young people) who may not have had much experience at ‘the family table’. As a result, and as she wrote, she pretended the reader was at her side through the whole process from shopping to table.

The book begins with explanations of equipment, and definitions of basic and unfamiliar ingredients and cooking terminology. The rest of the book covers more than 120 core ingredients—from how to buy and store to how to prepare. And, of course, recipes.

While the book is loaded with recipes, I had to go through quite a few page 32s to find one that had a recipe.

gratin mussels

Gratin of mussels

Ingredients
2 kg mussels in shell, bearded
1/2 cup white wine
fresh breadcrumbs
olive oil

Sauce
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, finely diced
500 g tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
grated zest of 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper

boiling tomatoes to peel tomatoes snd lemon zest cooking mixture for mussels

Method
Steam mussels open in wine, then remove and discard top shells. Reserve strained juices.

Preheat oven to 220°C. To make the sauce, sauté shallots and garlic in oil until soft. Add carrot and sauté for 5 minutes. Add tomato, tomato paste and lemon zest and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in reserved juices and simmer until sauce is thick. Season with pepper.

Place mussels in a single layer on an ovenproof platter and spoon over sauce. Scatter with breadcrumbs and drizzle with oil. Bake for 10 minutes until golden and bubbling, then scatter with parsley. The dish is good hot or at room temperature.

How it played out
The other day I bought a kilo package of cleaned and ready-to-cook mussels for the rock bottom price of $3.99. They had a use-by date for the next day.

As it happened, Lyn and Peter, friends from out of town, stopped by around lunchtime the next day. So I decided to make a half a batch of this recipe. It fit perfectly because Peter is allergic to regular onions, but can eat shallots (eschalots in this case).

I made the recipe as written, except that we were hungry and in a hurry, so the mussels had only about 7 minutes in the oven. As an aside, I used panko breadcrumbs—those crustier, more full-bodied breadcrumbs—to scatter over the mussels.

Stephanie Alexander cookbook

Verdict
All four of us were weak at the knees. This is one of the finest mussel recipes I have ever made. I’ll go beyond that and say it’s one of the nicest recipes I’ve ever made. We all wished I’d had two kilos of mussels on hand.

Super easy to make and so amazingly delicious. Stephanie Alexander clearly deserves her chef-goddess crown.

Travel
If you love shellfish, here’s a post from Cambodia.

gratin of mussels

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About leggypeggy

Intrepid overland traveller, keen photographer, avid cook—known to jump out of airplanes and do other silly things. Do not act my age.
This entry was posted in Fish and seafood, Vegetable and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Gratin of mussels

  1. OhMyMussels! I do adore this recipe ❤ ❤ ❤
    And for my gang 2 kilos are nor enough 😀
    Your last photo makes me hungry!
    Ciao
    Sid

  2. sepultura13 says:

    Oh, I love mussels…this looks like a fantastic recipe to try out! Looks delicious…
    😛

  3. blondieaka says:

    Ohhhh sounds amazing and one our favorite shell fish..Thank you Peggy for sharing 🙂

  4. Sheryl says:

    I’m going to have to get some mussels. I really like how you give the “verdict” for each recipe. I’ve previously made a few recipes you’ve recommended, and have really liked them. Since you enjoyed this recipe so much, I really want to give it a try.

    • leggypeggy says:

      Thanks so much. These really were delicious. Made another page-32 mussel recipe last week that was okay, but nothing like this. Do let me know how this turns out for you if you make it.

  5. Pingback: Easy Seville marmalade (two recipes) | What's cooking on page 32

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