The Beautiful Bivalve | Mussels with Chorizo and Broken Fideo

In the Abode of the Dead they are known exclusively as moules, and, when served, Hades will eat them in breathtaking quantities.  They are mussels — tiny, meaty, sweet little jewels that are revered like no other ingredient in these parts.  I must admit, they are strangely beautiful.  Their black and pearly shells contrast with the orange-yellow flesh inside, and a full pan of these yawning bivalves is quite striking indeed.

In this recipe, I’ve given them a Latin American (a little Cuban, a little Mexican) flair.  The peppery chorizo is a nice counterpoint to the bold taste of the moules, and the creamy, briny sauce is sure to stick in your memory.  Think mussels are a little strange?  Never had ’em?  This flavorful and spicy dish is just the introduction you need.  And if you’re already a fan, here’s a new way to swim.

Mussels, Chorizo and Broken Fideo, serves 3

2 pounds of firmly closed or responsively closing Mussels, cleaned and de-bearded

1/2 pound Chorizo fresco, removed from its casing and roughly crumbled

1 shallot, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 of a green bell pepper, diced

1 small red chili pepper, whole, pricked with a fork

2 shots of Tequila

1/2 cup of stock (your choice of vegetable, chicken or fish)

1 pinch of saffron

1/2 tsp. of turmeric

1 tablespoon of oregano, finely chopped

1/2 cup of heavy cream

1 T of butter

Salt, pepper and olive oil

1/2 lb. of Fideo

A dusting of Manchego cheese (optional)

In a heavy-bottomed, lidded pan, or perhaps a tagine, add a serious glug of olive oil, the shallots, garlic, green and red pepper, and soften over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the chorizo and cook for another 10 minutes.  Pour in the Tequila to deglaze, scraping down the pan.  Now add the stock, saffron, turmeric and oregano, and let that simmer for 5 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, cook the fideo in salted water according to package directions.  But before cooking, break them into 1 to 2 inch segments if not already done for you.

It’s now time to add the mussels, crank the heat and cover.  It should take about 4 to 5 minutes to cook them.  If they’re open, they’re done, if not, discard them.  With a big serving spoon, stir in the cream and some salt and pepper to season.  Remember, as they cook, the mussels will release salty juices, so don’t season too early.  Pour over the drained noodles and give it another stir.  Finally, add the butter for some shine and re-check the seasoning.  Remove the red pepper.  Divide between bowls, grating some Manchego over the top if desired, and enjoy.

Playlist included Elina Garanča’s “Habanera,” from Carmen.

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