Friday, December 24, 2010
Mussels Fra Diavola
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is a wonderful dish that I love to make at least once during the Christmas holiday. If I were Italian and celebrated the Feast of Seven Fishes, I would include it in my menu for Christmas Eve. That would raise an eyebrow or two because the dish, like vodka sauce for pasta, is an Italian-American creation that is rarely served in Italy. Whatever the origin, mussels prepared in this fashion are a memorable, if messy, treat. Whenever I serve these, I cover the table with vinyl or oilcloth and distribute lobster bibs. It also helps to provide a large bowl or two to hold empty shells. Everyone at the table also receives two dish towels, one damp, the other dry. Only a crab boil is messier than this to serve to folks who eat with gusto. Believe me when I say, my folk have cornered the gusto market and these preparations are a necessity rather than an affectation. Once the mussels have been scrubbed and their beards removed, the dish can be made in minutes. Its heat, the alla diavola, comes from red pepper flakes, so you can manage it to your family's liking as long as you know their tolerance for heat. The dish has just three elements, a spicy red sauce, mussels and linguine. The mussels simmer in sauce and when they open they are served along with the sauce over piping hot linguine. I always serve this with a salad and the best Italian bread I can get my hands on. I do hope you'll try mussels prepared in this fashion. They really are delicious. Here's the recipe.
Mussels Fra Diavola...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite adapted from Gourmet magazine
12 garlic cloves, minced (1/3 cup)
3/4 to 1-1/2 teaspoons dried hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup olive oil
1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in purée
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
1/4 cup drained bottled capers
1/2 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 lb dried linguine
3 lb mussels (preferably cultivated), cleaned (see cooks' note, below)
1) Cook garlic and red pepper flakes in oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with purée, tomato paste, herbs, capers, olives, and wine and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes, until sauce is thick, about 15 minutes.
2) Cook linguine in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain in a colander.
3) While pasta cooks, increase heat under sauce to moderately high and add mussels, then cook, covered, until mussels just open wide, checking frequently after 3 minutes and transferring to a bowl. (Discard any mussels that remain unopened after 6 minutes.)
4) Serve linguine with mussels and sauce. Yield: 6 servings.
1) Scrub mussels with a brush under cold water and scrape off any barnacles with a knife. Remove beard by pulling it from tip to hinge or by pulling and cutting it off with knife.
2) Tomato sauce, without mussels, can be made and refrigerated 2 days before serving.
You might also enjoy these recipes:
Salt Cod and Tomato Stew - One Perfect Bite
Feast of the Seven Fishes - Italian Food Forever
Broiled Mussels - Smitten Kitchen
Sauteed Mussels with Garlic - The Housewife Diet
Flexing My Mussels - Charm and Salt
Moules Mariniere - One Perfect Bite
Coconut Curry Mussels - Simply Recipes
Spicy Mussels in White Wine - The Culinary Chronicles
Mario Batali's Feast of the Seven Fishes - Epicurious