It’s your last chance to grab a slice. Pizzeria Delphina on Dauphin Street announced last week they would be open only until Saturday, June 12. Their Facebook post was at 406 comments at the time of this writing and is sure to grow with more sentiments like “Devastated!” and “Nooooo!” After years at the southeast corner of Bienville Square, these guys have certainly garnered fans. Best of luck to owner Richie Gambino on his next endeavor.
Noble South hosts dinner with Hank Shaw
LoDa’s The Noble South (203 Dauphin Street) is hosting an evening with James Beard Award-winning chef Hank Shaw Thursday, June 24, 6:30-9 p.m. The author of “Hook, Line and Supper” will be on hand working with local chefs for a meal of heavy hors d’oeuvres made straight from the recipes in his cookbook. Also expect beer, wine and a signed copy of the book!
Tickets are $80 each. Contact The Noble South (251-690-6824) for more information. Seating is limited.
Pulling mussels from the shell
Growing up, I cannot recall a single dinner where my mom was steaming mussels. It wasn’t a thing at my house. We were a very seafood-friendly family (save for my sister, who only eats the part of the animal kingdom born with two to four legs), but mussels never made it to our table. We ate shrimp whenever we could get a hold of it, fish was absolutely fine, and my dad and I could handle any amount of oysters you could throw at us, raw or otherwise.
Mussels just weren’t a thing in 1980s Laurel, Mississippi. As a matter of fact, I missed out on a lot of things as a youngster that now seem implausible to my children. We didn’t have lamb. Ever. I had no idea what hummus was. Tacos in a soft tortilla didn’t seem like a good idea until Taco Bell hit town. I didn’t feel sheltered in this sense, because I never had any of these things at my friends’ houses, either.
The tables have turned for my boys. I reckon Lucas, Graham and Henry have been kept from the joys of pickled sausage, salmon croquettes and whatever dessert it was that kept my grandmother stocked with empty Cool Whip containers, always at the ready for leftovers from Sunday lunch. Seriously, Mammaw Mac, where did they come from? It was like “refrigerator roulette,” opening gravy, green beans, broccoli casserole and pork roast while looking for the potato salad. Heaven forbid there was actual Cool Whip in the tub. She must have had some kind of hookup or perhaps a closeted addiction.
Where was I? Oh, mussels. This is a story about mussels. I’m pretty sure I was singing the song by The Squeeze before I started eating these things. They’re good, but really they aren’t the centerpiece of any meal. Mussels just aren’t filling enough on their own. It’s the broth that comes about from the steaming pot of bivalves that makes the preparation worthwhile. There are few pan sauces, gravies or dips that can compete with plunging good bread into that light juice. I’d be spoiled to have it more than once per month.
The flavor can vary. It’s whatever you make of it. Mussels have a dark, almost dirty flavor, so fresh herbs, lemon juice and seeded tomatoes will clean it up a bit. I use white wine, usually a Pinot Gris or perhaps something Portuguese to help with the steaming. Speaking of, you won’t need a steamer basket for this. The shells stacked on one another in a Dutch oven or skillet will give you altitude enough.
Once you have steam, it will only take about six or seven minutes for these to open.
I’ve taken to adding shrimp at the end of the cooking time to load the protein, creating a more filling dish. This is great over pasta or stripped of shells and served as a soup. That’s how I eat it the next day, straight out of the Cool Whip bowl.
1 sack of mussels, usually 1 pound to 1 1/2 pounds
1 pound of peeled Gulf shrimp
1/2 stick of butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
3/4 cup white wine
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
Clean the mussels under cold water. I use a vegetable scrub brush. Don’t do this ahead of time; do it right before you start cooking.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a Dutch oven or skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and give it another 3.
Add the wine and lemon juice and allow it to come up to temp. Once you see it begin to steam, add the mussels. Cover tight and let it cook for 4 minutes.
Check to see if the mussels have begun opening. Give them a shake and stir in the shrimp. Let them cook for another 2 or 3 minutes and then kill the heat. Sprinkle in the parsley and put the lid back on. Serve it a few minutes later.
I love any pull-apart bread for this, but lately, we have been hooked on sliced mountain bread from the Publix bakery. I toast it under the broiler on one side without any butter, just to give it some firmness. If you want to go the pasta route, I’m liking regular spaghetti for this one. Whatever is leftover will be better the next day.
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