Mussels with Horseradish, Grilled Bread and Aioli

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Mussels with Horseradish, Grilled Bread and Aioli
by Curtis DiFede
Simple Feast

Serves 4
1 hour 20 minutes total time
50 minutes active time

To say that I am partial to seafood is an understatement. I love the simple, clean flavors of the sea but certain ingredients make fish and shellfish even better. In this case, horseradish offers a dimension of heat to balance the flavors. I like to use the food processor to make the aioli but it can also be made by hand using a mortar and pestle.

Ingredients

Aioli
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup safflower oil or vegetable oil
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, peeled and pounded in a mortar

Mussels
1 ½ gallons water
3 tablespoons fine sea salt
4 pounds mussels, debearded and scrubbed well
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced into 1/8-inch slices
1 medium leek, white and light green portion thinly sliced, 1/8-inch rings
4 shallots, sliced into 1/8-inch rings
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups dry white wine
2 tablespoons grated fresh horseradish root
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
½ bunch chives, thinly sliced

Grilled Bread
Eight ½-inch slices rustic Italian bread
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt

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Directions
To Make the Aioli

Combine the olive and safflower oils in a liquid measuring cup.

Put the egg yolk, lemon juice, and mustard in the bowl of the food processor and pulse to combine. With the food processor running, slowly add the oil, through the hole in the top, in a thin stream. Once all the oil is incorporated, stir in the mortared garlic and season with salt. Refrigerate.

To Soak and Cook the Mussels

Put the water and salt in a large bowl and whisk to dissolve the salt. Add the mussels and soak for about 30 minutes to remove any grit. 

Meanwhile, choose a stockpot or Dutch oven that will hold all of the mussels. Pour in a generous film of olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, leek, shallots, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until all are translucent, about 8 minutes. 

Pour in the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. 

Stir in the horseradish and then add the mussels, stirring to coat them in the vegetable mixture. Cover with the lid and let the mussels steam to open, 6 to 8 minutes.

To Grill the Bread

Meanwhile, heat a grill pan to medium-high heat. Brush both sides of the slices with olive oil, and season lightly with salt.  Grill the bread until crispy on both sides.

To Finish the Mussels and Serve

Remove the pot with the mussels from the heat and discard any that haven’t opened. Add the butter, parsley, and chives to the pot, and stir to coat the mussels. 

Put toast in the bottom of each serving bowl and spoon the mussels over the top. Top with a large dollop of aioli.

Equipment
Food processor
Liquid measuring cup
Grill pan
Whisk
Stockpot or Dutch oven
Slotted spoon or spider
Mortar and pestle

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