On the Sea
It keeps eternal whisperings around
Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
Gluts twice ten thousand caverns, till the spell
Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
Often ’tis in such gentle temper found,
That scarcely will the very smallest shell
Be moved for days from where it sometime fell,
When last the winds of heaven were unbound.
O ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired,
Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea;
O ye! whose ears are dinn’d with uproar rude,
Or fed too much with cloying melody, –
Sit ye near some old cavern’s mouth, and brood
Until ye start, as if the sea-nymphs quired!
-John Keats, 1817
Mussels are bountiful on the Maine Coast and the lovely little shell fish always presents the most luxurious dinner. Last night, we sat outside around a fire to enjoy wine, food, heartfelt conversation, the warm summer air on our skin, & the quiet sounds of seagulls in the distance. If you have never made mussels at home before, perhaps the task seems a bit daunting, give it a go. You will be surprised how simple, delicious, & elegant this meal is. It is one of my absolute favorites.
Maine Mussels with Garlic in White Wine & Lemon Broth
Serves 2 as a main dish or serves 4 as a side
2 lb. mussels (I used local wild Maine mussels, but see what looks good at your local market)
3 TBl butter
a glug of extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of shallots or red onion, finely chopped
1 cup of dry white wine
the juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup of fresh parsley, chopped & equally divided
sea salt & cracked pepper
Cleaning the Mussels: Make sure when you pick up your mussels from the store that they are alive & packed in ice. The person behind the counter can tell you how to care for the mussels until you are ready to cook them. Right before you are ready to cook you must clean the mussels. A half hour before I cook, I soak the mussels in a large bowl of very salty water. Then, run each one under cold water, rubbing to remove any sand and grit. You also might need to remove the fuzzy “beard” that is on the side of the shell. To do this gently tug back and forth until it slides out. If it doesn’t come off that is okay. If any shells are open gently tap them with the back of your knife & see if they close. If they do not, discard the mussels. Also if any shells have any holes or openings they must be discarded.
- In a large cast iron melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion & garlic & cook for 3-4 minutes. Add wine, 1/4 cup of parsley, lemon juice, salt & pepper to taste. Bring the liquid to a boil then to a simmer & cover with lid for about 5 minutes (until it reduces a bit).
- Add your cleaned mussels, stir, bring up the heat to medium, & cover. Cook about 4-5 minutes, stirring half way through. The mussels should be open & ready to eat. Any mussels that do not open must be discarded. Stir one more time & add the rest of the parsley on top.
- Serve as is like I did or with a baguette or on top of your favorite spaghetti.