Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day - Mussels in the Style of the Harlot from Amatrice

I must be feeling better.  I have insomnia, and I don't mind one bit.  Friday the 13th is finally over, and here it is, 3:50 AM Saturday, and I am in the kitchen cooking mussels.  These mussels have been on my mind ever since I took them out of the freezer and sort of forgot about them for a few days while I temporarily unraveled.

I love frozen mussels.  I love their uniform quality, their availability, and their reasonable price.  But I did not want to have to toss them, no matter how reasonable the cost, so I started thinking about ways to cook them, now, immediately, not one minute sooner.  Since I was wide awake, I started researching on the Internet, which turned out to be a perfectly useless exercise, as apparently there are only two ways to cook mussels, in a white wine sauce and in a marinara sauce. Well, I got the white wine sauce recipe to end all white wine recipes - see the October 21, 2014 blog entry - and while I love marinara, I had just made a marinara sauce this past week to go with the chicken parmesan.  So I started thinking, and came up with this sauce, the nonmarital child of All' Amatriciana and Alla Puttenesca, and combined it with my now-defrosted mussels.

1 tablespoon roasted garlic extra virgin olive oil
4 slices bacon, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 14.5 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 - 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped
8 pitted black olives, quartered lengthwise
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh chopped basil (I used Gourmet Garden Basil Paste)
kosher salt, coarsely ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 pounds cooked frozen mussels, defrosted overnight in refrigerator

Warm up the oil in a large deep skillet and add the bacon.  When it is about half-cooked, add the garlic, lower the heat, and cook until the garlic is softened and just barely beginning to show color.  Add the diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce, then use the wine to swish out the inside of both cans to capture all of the tomato and add that to the skillet, along with the capers, olives, pepper flakes, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper.  Cover the skillet, leaving the lid very slightly tilted, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.

While the sauce is cooking, take the mussels out of the refrigerator, cut open the bags, and pour off any liquid.  Taste the sauce and re-season if needed.  Add the sugar if needed.  Stir in the butter.  Now add all of the mussels.  Increase the heat and bring the sauce up to a fast simmer.  Cover the pan, lower the heat a bit, and cook the mussels in the sauce for 4 to 8 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Pour the entire contents of the skillet into a large serving dish, and garnish with the chopped parsley.  Very good with bread to dip into the sauce.  Or, you could pour the finished mussels and sauce over 12 ounces of spaghetti or linguine, cooked according to package directions.  Either way, TASTY.

Today is Valentine's Day, and as always during the Interregnum of the Profits, Robert is busy working.  This year, he is just on the other side of the door between the office and residence, so if I want to sneak over with a kiss, I can ... but in all truth, after being part of each other's lives for 43 years, just having him nearby is enough.  When I was a young and callow youth, and even on my first wedding day, I could not imagine ever loving someone so deeply and so completely.  We have been through terrible and wonderful times together, but have always made it through because we had each other's heart.  Happy Valentine's Day, my love.

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