I’m not sure if you can get a vegetable any more “peasant-ish” than turnips, and mussels might be the protein equivalent. So I paired the two up for a nice dinner. To someone who grew up in the desert, mussels are a bit scary. Most recipes talk about de-bearding, getting the sand out, etc. But mussels today (at least when you get them at AJ’s) are already clean. The only trick is to make sure they are alive. Make sure you buy them the day you cook them (the person at the fish counter will sort usually sort through and get live ones). When you get them home, open the plastic bag so then can breathe. I put the bag in a bowl with some ice, and a wet paper towel on top and keep them in the fridge.. When you are ready to cook, rinse in a colander, and get rid of any that don’t close. You might need to tap them to make them close – those are still OK. Then put into the pot and cook (see below)… and if any don’t open, don’t eat. It’s really pretty simple, and they are so good. And good for you! Don’t forget some bread to soak up the broth.
Mussels Sailor-Style (if you are a French Sailor)
Adopted from Jaques Pepin’s Complete Techniques. Figure a little under 1 pound of mussels per person for a main dish.
2 - 5 lbs mussels
1 cup chopped onions
1clove garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
½ cup chopped parsley
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Dash (or sprig) of Thyme
1 bay leaf
Dash of salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup white wine
Combine all ingredients in a large pot, cover, place on high heat and bring to a boil.
Keep cooking for about 10 minutes. Twice while they are cooking, lift the kettle with both hands, your thumbs holding the cover, and shake the kettle in an up-and-down motion to toos the mussels. They should all open. Do not overcook or they will toughen. Serve in shallow bowls with some of the broth on top. Save (and freeze) any extra broth for fish soup.
There was a great recipe a while back in Fine Cooking on how to roast vegetables… practically any vegetable (from peas to cauliflower to squash to root vegetables) like turnips! I added a carrot to the turnip for some color..
Roasted Turnips and Carrots
First, heat the oven on to 450 – 475F. Trim and peel a turnip (or two), start with about a pound plus a big carrot for some color. Cut everything into ¾ to 1 inch pieces. Put on a cooking sheet covered with parchment, add tablespoons or so of olive oil and a bit of salt. Mix to distribute the oil. Spread evenly, and put into the oven. After 10 minutes, stir and make sure chunks are turned. Cook for another 10 or 15 minutes, until tender and done. They should have brown spots and edges. Remove from the oven, add some more salt (some finishing salt if you have it), and maybe a squirt of lemon juice (hey.. this was in this week’s box!) Serve hot.