Mussels Grilled Two Ways: The Bittersweet & The Bitten Word

ingredients for mussels grilled two ways

ingredients for mussels grilled two ways

Cooking mussels on the grill is not as crazy as it sounds. Once I got it in my head to make these, I started digging around on the internet for inspiration and quickly found a fab recipe courtesy of the classy, sharp cooks behind The Bitten Word. I’d noticed these fellows back when I was developing BSG, a period that involved a good deal of spying on other food bloggers, and I remember coveting, just a little, The Bitten Word’s clever concept and unique angle on food blogging. I particularly like their philosophy on sharing bad recipes. Check ’em out!

Back to the mussels. I ended up making them two ways. For the first batch I selected the smallest from a 3-pound bag of mussels, which came to about two-thirds the total quantity, and laid them in aluminum trays that would go right on the grill.

Ingredients for 2 people

About 1 kilo / 2 pounds of mussels
olive oil
1 large bunch of fresh parsely
2 or 3 dried red chili peppers (optional)
250 mls / 1 cup  of dry white wine

Instructions

Clean and thoroughly scrub the mussels. Get your grill going. Cover the bottom of the aluminum tray(s) with olive oil. Put half the batch of mussels in each tray (or all of them in one large tray if your grill will accomodate it). Rinse and roughly chop the parsley and sprinkle over the mussels. Pour about ½ cup of white wine  over them. Break the chili peppers and toss them in. Seal the tray with a large sheet of aluminum foil and place on the grill, once the coals are nice and smoldering. After about 5 minutes, the mussels should start to open up. Put on some heavy oven mits and give the trays a good shake on the grill. After another 5 minutes shake them again. Tear a small hole in the foil for a peek. They should be opened and ready. (I estimate mine cooked 12 minutes altogether.) Dump the entire contents, shells and juice, into a large glass bowl. This is very like a traditional zuppa di cozze. Serve with really good French bread or a baguette.

The Bitten Word’s recipe was amazing (and I’m so glad I served their version second). I had set aside the larger mussels for this one.

Ingredients for 2 people

About 2 pounds of mussels (I only had about 1 pound circa that night. Not enough!)
125 grams / about 1 stick of butter
2 or 3 cloves garlic
1 small bunch of fresh parsley
1 or 2 lemons

Instructions

Mince the garlic and parsley, blend into the butter, and melt. I did this right on the grill (below). Slice the lemons in half and place on the grill, together with the mussels. When the mussels open up the juice spills out, but that’s okay. Let them grill a couple minutes more, and they take on a different flavor and texture, becoming meaty and smoky (yes, those are the technical terms). Transfer them to a large bowl and pour the garlic butter over them and toss well. Garnish with the grilled lemons. This was truly a divine eating experience. Thanks to The Bitten Word!

garlic-parsley butter melting alongside grilling mussels & lemons

garlic-parsley butter melting alongside grilling mussels & lemons

A few tips on mussels:

Clean them with a new sponge you’ll then toss out afterwards.
Cook them the same day they are cleaned.
Always toss out mussels that do not open during cooking (opened a little bit is okay; it’s the still totally sealed ones you have to toss).