I currently live in Charlotte, NC and after spending 7 years as a personal chef and caterer, I am now happy to share my love of cooking with friends and family. My heart is in the kitchen, but my soul is in the stars!

Shaken or Stirred?

Since I pledged to participate in the October Unprocessed 2013 challenge, I've been searching for recipes with lots of bang for the buck when it comes to flavor.  This Rachael Ray recipe for mussels simmered in a dirty martini sauce fit the bill for me.

This may not fit the "real food" model for some people with the addition of alcohol, but it does pass the "kitchen test" and alcohol is addressed in the FAQs.  It wasn't my intention to cut alcohol out of my diet anyway, because the thought of no alcohol forever (let alone for a whole month) fills me with absolute terror. 

I used frozen mussels from the frozen seafood section of my grocery store because I've never had good luck with the fresh mussels actually being fresh.  Plus, I barely have time to shave my own legs in the mornings, so where would I find time to scrub and de-beard a couple dozen crustaceans?  I keep a couple of packs of mussels in my freezer for the occasions when I crave the mussels in spicy tomato sauce or this delicious paella.  

And just like a perfectly mixed martini served in a frosty glass after a hard day's work, this recipe didn't disappoint.  I loved the olive pesto so much that I skimped on adding it all to the dish and ate some with cheese and crackers during the week for a snack.  

Rachael Ray may drive me to drink, but the woman has awesome mussels!

Dirty Martini Mussels
Serves 4


1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley
¾ cup pitted green olives
3 tablespoons olive brine
4 cloves garlic, pasted or grated
1 lemon, zested and juiced
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
Salt and Pepper
½ cup good quality gin
¼ dry vermouth
3 pounds medium mussels (about 4 dozen) scrubbed and de-bearded
3  tablespoons butter
Warm crusty bread, torn in chunks for mopping sauce

Using a food processor, finely chop the parsley, olives, garlic and lemon zest.  Pour in ¼ cup EVOO and the lemon juice and process into a pesto.

In a large pot or deep skillet with a tight fitting lid, heat the remaining 2 T of EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium high heat.  Add the onions and cook until softened, 5 to6 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the pesto.  Add the gin and vermouth and cook until reduced, about 1 minute.

Add the mussels, cover and steam until opened, 6 to 8 minutes; discard any unopened shells.

Add the butter to the mussels and shake the pan to melt it into sauce.  Serve with the bread for mopping.

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