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Mussels With Chorizo

This doesn’t sound all that likely, but after sampling two completely different versions of it from several restaurants around town, I wanted to try my own hand. What you get is a sauce that has the flavor of the mussels in the front, a but more substance than what you get from mussel meat alone, and a lingering glow from chorizo’s pepper. The kind of chorizo I use here is the loose, uncooked variety rather than the cured Spanish kind.

  • 1 lbs. chorizo fresca or Creole hot sausage, removed from casings
  • All the juice from a 28-ounce can of Italian plum tomatoes, plus four of the tomatoes themselves, crushed
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 dozen mussels in shells, well washed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Creole seafood seasoning

Mussels

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the chorizo until fully cooked, breaking it up with a kitchen fork. Add about 1/4 cup of the tomato juice after a two minutes of cooking, to keep the chorizo from clumping up. Remove the chorizo from the pan and set aside.

2. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook in the fat from the chorizo until fragrant.

3. Add the mussels, checking to make sure all of them are tightly closed. Add the wine and lemon juice, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and let the mussels steam for about a minute. Agitate the pan to allow the mussel juices to run out into the rest of the sauce makings.

4. Uncover the pan and lower the heat to medium-low. Add the remainder of the tomato juice, the crushed tomatoes, Creole seasoning, and the chorizo. Stir the pan contents around to distribute the ingredients. It’s desirable for the tomatoes and the chorizo to work its way inside the mussel shells. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper if needed.

5. Remove the mussels to soup bowls. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper if necessary. Spoon the sauce over the mussels. Avoid scraping the bottom of the pan for the sauce, to avoid getting any of the sand that might have been in the mussels.

Serves four appetizers or one entree.

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