The joy of shopping at a farmers market is the plethora of ingredients at your fingertips and the atmosphere you get to buy them in. The wonderful colors and smells, the buzz of conversation between vendors and customers, friends running into each other, customers talking about how good the peaches look, the changing perfumes of yeasty fresh-baked breads to the sticky sweet of blackberries all create a wonderful all five sense engaging experience. It can also be completely overwhelming. One can easily be seduced by the ingredients themselves and walk out of a farmers market with a collection of items that when put together don’t actually make cohesive dishes. As we have established I am a glutton and lack a certain level of impulse control so I always try to go with a loose framework of what I am thinking of making but also try to leave myself room for the creative cook in me to raise her hand and say: ‘Wait! Lets get this instead and wing it!” Many of my successful dishes have come from this method, but also some of my greatest failures.
The loose list is an important concept when because the farmers market isn’t necessarily going to have everything you need. Maybe it isn’t in season, maybe there isn’t a high enough demand for it, and maybe someone else came along and bought every single chili. I went to the market with a list that looked like this: fish, hanger steak (or something thin, I was thinking of marinating the beef in lime, soy sauce, salt and pepper for either a salad or a quesadilla) veggies, fruit, bread, coffee, milk, butter. This is what I bought: snap peas, Bok choy, French breakfast radishes, lettuce, pork chorizo sausages, 6 farm fresh eggs, a grass-fed and finished London broil steak and two pounds of mussels. So, there I am standing there with my purchases thinking: “Ok, now what are you actually going to make?” I turned myself around went back into the farmers market picked up a bunch of shallots and some flat leaf parsley, then got on my bike pedaled home and made this recipe which was quite lovely.
Steamed Mussels with Chorizo and Beer
Serves 2 as an entrée or 4-6 as an appetizer.
Note: Make sure that you wash the outsides of your mussels thoroughly, if you find any that are cracked, or open throw them away. Soak your mussels in cold water at least 20 minutes before cooking, this is important to do because the mussels breathe in the water and expel any sand as well as any salt they might have. Check the edges of the mussels for the beard, which are fibers sticking out from the shell, if you see them grab them and pull them towards the hinge and yank them out.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons minced shallots (1 large)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 chorizo sausage links (cook ahead of time and slice)
1 12-ounce bottle of beer, (something in the Lager or Pilsner family, I used Magic Hat’s Summer Seasonal)
Fresh ground pepper
3 tablespoons finely minced flat leaf parsley
In a pot that is large enough to hold your mussels and that you have a lid for, heat the olive oil and the butter together, once the butter has melted add your shallots and garlic and cook until softened about 3 minutes. Add the already cooked and sliced chorizo. Now add the lager followed by the mussels. Close the lid and steam the mussels until they open and the mussel meat is beige in color. About 5 minutes. Once they are open, turn off heat and place the mussels and sausage in a serving bowl (or bowls) leaving the broth in the pan. Squeeze a lemon over the mussels, sprinkle them with the parsley and top off with pepper. You can at this point either ladle the broth over the mussels or serve separately on the side for dipping; it’s completely your call. If you have warm bread to dip in the broth, that’s especially heavenly.
I forgot to take a picture, so I’m giving you this one of lovely sugar snap peas.