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Mussels are a lovely seafood option that are easy to cook at home for either a main course or as a show-stopping appetizer at any dinner party. Do get your mussels at good fish market or other reliable seafood purveyor. After you pick out your lovely mussels be sure you don’t suffocate them on the way home, they need to breath. If they are in a plastic bag be sure to vent the bag so your mussels can get some fresh air.  You see fresh mussels aren’t just “fresh” they are alive. Rinse them well and scrub lightly if needed and depending on your seafood market you might need to tug off the beards, that little bit of seaweed sticking out of the shell.

There are two kinds of chorizo, fresh and dry. Here in South Florida and we are lucky to have lots of  Spanish influenced products in our local grocery stores so we have easy access to both kinds of chorizo.  Fresh chorizo is so good and anything you cook with gets this rich smokey flavor and beautiful golden/orange color, you must give it a try. That wonderful flavor is going to help the broth in with your mussels go from good to rockstar, so have lots of crusty bread on hand to dip in it. The mixture of the sausage, onions and tomatoes in the broth are like a whole other meal that you get in the bottom of your mussel pot. Don’t forget that along with some great french bread you will want either a nice white wine or even sparkling water, very European.

steamed mussels

3 lbs of mussels

3-4 fresh chorizo sausages with the casings removed

6 cloves of garlic

3 medium onions

2 tbs Tomato paste

2 large ripe tomatoes

1.5 cups white wine

Fresh parsley

Start by sorting and cleaning your mussels, I put them in a large colander and rinse them well.  Then I scrub them with a stiff brush, remove the beard (it helps the mussel hold on to rocks), throw away any damaged, dead or chipped mussels. Some people soak the mussels in water (with or without corn meal) to let them release any sand they are holding. I have done this many times and I have skipped it just as many times; I don’t know that I have tasted much difference.  That being said I get my mussels from places like Whole Foods if you are lucky enough to getting them right from a fisherman or are collecting them on your own I would think releasing the sand may be more important.

Next set them aside and heat a small drizzle of olive oil in a large lidded pot. Once hot add the sausage and break it apart letting it brown until cooked through. Then add in the roughly chopped onion and garlic. And allow it to cook until the onion is getting tender, careful not to burn the garlic. Then deglaze the pot with the white wine; be sure to scrape and browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Then add the tomato paste mixing it until fully dissolved. Once the wine is boiling nicely add in the chopped tomato and then the mussels stirring gently a few times.

Cover the pot letting it cook for about 6-8 minutes or until the mussels open. Remove the pot from the heat and stir it one more time mixing all the nice broth through the mussels. Sprinkle lots of fresh parsley over the top, it’s lovely bright flavor is a nice addition to the pot. Serve the mussels with a big loaf of crusty white bread and a glass of cool white wine. I am always sure that when I serve each person they get a nice amount of the both the wonderful broth as well as the tasty sausage with their mussels. Don’t forget a discard bowl for the table so everyone has a place to put their empty shells.

Recipe and photos from cookbetterthan.com.