Monday, May 12, 2008

Mussel Risotto

If you have arborio rice and one other ingredient, really almost anything, you've got a hearty, inexpensive, universally well regarded dish. The basic idea for this version is to steam your mussels, remove them, and then use the liquor to flavor the risotto. Of course at the end, you reintroduce them.

I started the pan with about a bulb's worth of halved garlic cloves, which once browned ended up looking a lot like mussels. I tried to grate in some black pepper, but the cap fell off my mill, so I ended up with whole peppercorns. It's not for everyone, but I liked the element of surprise: you never knew when you were about to bite into a little pepper mine, and what you thought was a mussel might very well turn out to be garlic.

For liquid I used chicken stock made a few days prior. I've been told to warm the liquid so that it's temperature wouldn't arrest the cooking each of the multiple times it was added. But once the stock was warm, I thought "why not keep going and reduce it a little?" Then I thought "why not add the mussel shells to the stock?" Then I thought "what if I have chicken syrup before the risotto's done?" -- in which case I'd have to finish with water. I know, it's a disgusting thought.

In the end it was a race between the two pots, but everyone was a winner. Except the mussels.

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Anonymous said...

Aaron, I saw your post on "bitten." Can you share your mom's Banana nut tea bread?!!


camille said...

Next time your pepper mill is busted, just crush it on your cutting board with the side of your chef's knife, or olive oil bottle. You can then run your knife through it if you want it smaller (in french - mignonette).