It’s not very often that I get the pleasure of cooking for my loved ones. Jason and I live such hectic, full-to-the-brim, jam-packed lives that it’s hard to find time to treat my family and friends to a home-cooked meal. So when I found out my mom was going to be in town dog-sitting for my brother last week, I jumped at the opportunity to spoil her! She’s been so supportive of my culinary passion and I think it’s safe to say it has rubbed off on her a little too. I wanted to make something I knew she wouldn’t normally make herself, in hopes of exciting her taste buds a bit. We just ate these curried mussels out of the bowl with a chunk of bread to soak up the broth. This would be equally delicious over a bed of rice. Or if you’re not a fan of mussels, try it with shrimp!
I love cooking shellfish like mussels and clams because you can do it all in one pot (easy clean-up!) and it will all come together in just 10-15 minutes. In Seattle, we’re blessed to have incredibly fresh, meaty mussels from Penn Cove which is just a short drive from where I live. If you’ve never cooked mussels before, don’t worry! Here are some things to keep in mind.
- Buy them fresh the day you plan to eat them, if possible. Keep them cool on ice until you’re ready to cook.
- Rinse and scrub them lightly to get rid of any barnacles or loose shell fragments.
- Pull off the “beard” (the fibers that attach a mussel to a rock).
- If any mussels don’t open during cooking, don’t eat them.
I can’t figure out why I’m having such a writer’s block when it comes to this post. Afterall, these prosciutto-wrapped halibut skewers are one of my top ten favorite things to make. Maybe that’s why. I’m struggling with finding the right words to capture how truly delicious these are. I should probably invest in a thesaurus. : ) These skewers are too awesome for words! They are the reason I counted down the days until halibut season opened last month. If you like to cook seasonally like me, now’s the time to buy halibut.
There’s a few philosophies I have about food and cooking that will become evident in a short amount of time. I’ll share one of the most important ones with you tonight since it’s relevant to the recipe.
#1. When in doubt, wrap it in bacon, prosciutto or pancetta.
Simple as that. You know how Bubba from “Forrest Gump” was the king of shrimp? “Shrimp salad, shrimp soup, bbq shrimp”….and he went on and on. Well that’s like me and bacon. I know this isn’t some revolutionary concept. Obviously everyone knows that salty pig fat is to-die-for, but I don’t think most of you embrace this food truth to the extent that I do. It provides that savory richness known as umami and is one of the elements that fuels my love of cooking.
Whenever I’m uninspired for dinner or feel the need to impress my guests, I wrap something in prosciutto and call it good. Some things I make are hit-or-miss, but I know without a doubt that anything wrapped in pig-fat will end up devoured by my meat-loving friends. So don’t be surprised when you start to see this common denominator start to crop up throughout my posts. Pancetta-wrapped pork loin, bacon-wrapped tequila shrimp, prosciutto-wrapped roasted pears with arugula….the list goes on.
Disclaimer: I’m all about eating healthy too. The trick to taking care of your body while eating bacon wrapped foods is simple. Don’t gorge yourself! Eat in moderation. Make sure the other 2/3 of your meal is comprised of fresh vegetables and whole grains. Also, because of the potent flavor that these pork products offer, you end up eating much less of it overall than you would something with a more muted flavor like ground beef.
I hope you’ll use the fresh rosemary skewer idea and run wild with it. Don’t be surprised when they take average veggie kabobs to the next level.
If actions speak louder than words, and a picture is worth a thousand words…well then I must be a chatterbox! Truth is, I’ve never been that good with words. There are so many people out there who I admire that have the most amazing voice and tone with their writing. Me, on the other hand, not so much. In fact, when it comes to any sort of confrontation, I shrink into a blubbering idiot. I’m much more comfortable letting my actions do the talking for me. And that means letting my food speak for itself.
This is another dish that really defies words. Mostly because you’ll be too busy cramming these into your mouth to bother with speaking. Why waste precious time talking (or in my case typing) when you could be slurping the sweet garlic-butter out of the oyster shells?
My rockstar sister-in-law Megan is the mastermind behind this recipe. She’s always entertaining at her house and this is the go-to appetizer that wows her guests every time. So you can rest assured that if you make this at the next BBQ you go to this spring you’ll be a rockstar too.
Oh and if you thought you didn’t like oysters before, I guarantee this will change your mind. Heck, I’d eat rocky mountain oysters if they were smothered in garlic-sherry butter and cheese.
Here’s some tips for the Oyster Newbie
-Try to buy them the day you’ll be eating them
-Store them on ice in your fridge
-smaller oysters are more tender
-if the oyster is already open before you start, discard it b/c it’s probably either dead or may carry unhealthy bacteria
-rinse the sealed oysters under cold water and scrub them to remove dirt
-they’re excellent with a bubbly glass of champagne!