Sunday, April 18, 2010

April 17th - Blue Cheese and Spinach Mussels with Bacon Waaaaay on the side with Sweet Potato Fries and Sourdough Toast

When I first heard of this, I was pretty skeptical.  Blue Cheese and Mussels?!? Weird right?  Well, Blue Cheese is an awesome thing, and should make almost anything awesome right? Well, D would say that of Bacon, which is why the combination of Bacon and Blue Cheese is so common too, mainly on Burgers.  Actually, I thought Moule and Frites (Mussels and Fries, a staple Belgian and French pair), I was very doubtful.  I was in University and had only been eating 'western' food regularly for a few years.  I was backpacking in the France and tried it in a darling little cafe near Mont St Michel. I never looked back. We typically do Yam/ Sweet Potato Fries instead of regular fries at home.  Recipe is below. 

We first saw this recipe on this FoodTV show where a chef, Teddy Folkman won a competition with his Bacon and Blue Cheese Mussels.  This recipe is based on his but adapted because I do not eat Pork. We had to keep the Bacon FAT for D's portion so he would get all of the 'joy' of Bacon even though we did not cook with it.  He started drooling as soon as he bought the slab. 

Blue Cheese and Spinach Mussels

2.5 lbs Mussels
6-7 small Shallots (1 c sliced)
1/4 c Olive oil
3/4-1 c Dry White Wine (Pascal Jolivet Sancerre)
2 Lemons Juiced, 1 zested
3/4 c Danish Blue Cheese, crumbled (~100g), Stilton or Bleu Claire if you like stronger 
2 c washed Baby Spinach (This is more than normal when you use Bacon but is necessary for balance for the non bacon portion. Use 1 c if you are doing a full Bacon version.)
1/2 -1 t Sea Salt
Fresh Black Pepper

Scrub the Mussels clean of any barnacles or beards.  Most mussels are pretty clean now a days.  Toss any that are open. Or if they are open, tap them and if they do not close up, then toss them.  You want to use the mussels same day you buy them.

6 strips Bacon (Streaky American Bacon, no Canadian or Pancetta or other), chopped

In a medium fry pan, fry up the Bacon until quite crispy but not burnt. Set aside.  Do not drain.  Set it waaaaay aside from the folks, like me, who do not want Bacon in their Mussels :^D.

In a large stock pot on medium high heat, add the oil and sautee the Shallots until softened, 1-2 minutes.  If you were not doing the Bacon on the side, you would be sauteeing the Shallots with the Olive Oil and Bacon FAT.

Add the Lemon Juice, Wine and the Mussels and toss by shaking the pot.  About 5 minutes, as most of the Mussels are opened, throw in the Spinach leaves.  Wash thoroughly. I like to buy the pre-washed Baby Spinach leaves but I wash them anyway but they are not as silty as the big bunches and no need for stemming.  Add about half the cheese now as well so it spreads throughout the pot. Add the zest toward the end so it does not cook too long.

Serve in large bowls topped with the rest of the Blue Cheese.  If you are having the Bacon, empty the pan you fried the Bacon into the bowl for the Bacon-eater, fat and all.

Serve with big slice of Sourdough, toasted.

Sweet Potato Fries with Old Bay Seasoning

3-4 medium Sweet Potatoes
2 Egg Whites
1-2 Olive Oil
1 T Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 t Sea Salt

Preheat the oven to 430F

Peel your Sweet Potatoes and slice them into 1cm thick slices.  Cut the slices into 1 cm fingers.  I leave them nice and long but you can cut them in half if you want.

In a big big mixing bowl, whisk the Egg Whites, Oil, Old Bay Seasoning and Salt.  Toss the fries until thoroughly coated.  You can use tongs if you like but I just toss them shimming them around the bowl like you would flip a pancake in a pan.

Line a large sheet pan with parchement paper (not wax paper), spread the fries out to as much of a single later as possible.  Back for 35-40 minutes.  Toss with the tongs a bit at the 20 minute mark.

Serve with Mayo.

We drank the Sancerre Pascal Jolivet we cooked.  Very minerally, Clay and Limestone are very prominent.

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