Between The Patriots’ appearance in XLVI and my alma mater, Boston University’s, victory in the first round of The Beanpot tonight I’ve been finding myself thinking a bit about Boston lately. Without a doubt my decision to move to Chicago nearly two years ago was a smart one, but it doesn’t mean I don’t find myself overcome with nostalgia for my home of eight years.
And of course as a foodie, I think about some of my Boston favorites often. Chicago lobster rolls just don’t compare and it’s been too long since I tucked into a bowl of rich and creamy clam chowder. And though I love Chicago Deep Dish, occasionally I find myself with a craving for my Charlestown Favorite, Figs‘ pizza. But mostly I miss mussels.
When I lived in Boston I would order them religiously at every bar and restaurant that carried them. I remember contentedly tucking into a big bowl of moules frites at Beacon Tavern after an evening of drinking with friends. I’d use my fries to sop up every last teaspoon of rich broth, often asking for a second or third basket of bread to stretch it out. But here, I rarely eat them out at restaurants and I never cook them at home. Almost three years ago I made them as a first course for a romantic Indian-inspired Valentine’s Day meal, and they haven’t reappeared in my kitchen since.
Generally I’ve only seen mussels sold in pre-packaged 2 lb bag, too much for a single girl. But when I saw them loose at Whole Foods I knew it was time to whip up a batch. These are entirely different than the Beacon Tavern version, with crisp apple cider serving as the base of the broth flavored by meaty bacon and sweet onions.
But don’t let the ingredient list fool you, the resulting mussels and their broth aren’t overally sweet at all. Just light and flavorful and a perfect companion for a hunk of crusty bread. And what I especially love is that once the onions are sliced and the parsley chopped it comes together quickly. I love that it is one of those truly special meals that requires minimal effort.
Adapted from Cooking Light
-2 bacon slices (I like Black Forest Bacon)
-1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
-1 pinch kosher salt
-1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
-1/2 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
-1/2 cup apple cider
-Chopped parsley, for garnish
Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and drain of excess grease on paper towels. Crumble bacon; set aside. Add onion, salt, and pepper to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add bacon, mussels, and cider; bring to a boil. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until mussels open; discard any unopened shells.
Place about mussels in the bottom of a shallow bowl. Ladle about the cup broth mixture over the top and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with a big hunk of bread or some homemade fries for dipping.