Recipe of the Month: Mussels in Pinot Noir Butter

October 31, 2013

Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir

Mussels in Pinot Noir Butter

Wine Varietal: Oregon Pinot Noir

Serves 4 as an appetizer

Although many people believe that red wines and seafood don’t mix, this recipe proves them wrong with delicious results. Cornichons are tiny crisp, tart French pickles. They are available in specialty stores and better supermarkets.

3/4 cup Oregon or other good-quality Pinot Noir

2 dozen large mussels (about 1 1/2 pounds), scrubbed and debearded just before cooking

2 tablespoons finely minced shallots

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

6 tiny cornichons, cut lengthwise into quarters

1. Bring 1/2 cup of the Pinot Noir to a boil in a large nonreactive saucepan or Dutch oven. Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the mussels, cover, and steam until the mussels open, about 5 to 7 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to redistribute the mussels. With a slotted spoon, remove the mussels that have opened and continue cooking the remaining mussels 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove the open mussels and discard the rest. Reserve the mussels and cooking juices in separate containers for later use.

2. While the mussels cool, place the remaining 1/4 cup Pinot Noir, the shallots, and lemon juice in a nonreactive medium skillet and reduce over low heat, about 5 to 7 minutes, or until the liquid is almost gone. Stir in the reserved mussel cooking liquid and reduce over medium heat until the liquid thickens slightly and is reduced to about 3 tablespoons. In the final stages, the liquid thickens rapidly, so watch it carefully and do not allow it to burn.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and add 1 or 2 small pieces of butter. Add the remaining butter one piece at a time. Whisk steadily until blended. The butter sauce should have the consistency of homemade mayonnaise, neither too solid nor too liquid. (The warm skillet should retain sufficient heat to do this smoothly; if the temperature drops too much, return the skillet to low heat. If the butter separates or curdles, whisk rapidly to emulsify.)

4. Remove the mussels from their shells and discard the upper shells. Place a cornichon quarter in the lower shells, place a mussel on each cornichon, and cover with sauce.

5. To serve, divide the mussels among individual plates or place on a large serving platter and serve immediately.

Recipe reprinted from “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia” (Wiley, 2007, $34.95) by Braiden Rex-Johnson.

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