Mussels with chorizo: What to serve the best chef in the world
I’ll admit I was nervous the first time I cooked for my future husband, said Nadine Levy Redzepi in Downtime (Pam Kraus Books / Avery). René was the chef at Copenhagen’s Noma, which would soon be named the best restaurant in the world. But when chefs have downtime, I found, they don’t want elaborate meals; “they just want well-flavored food made with good-quality ingredients.” I won René over with chicken livers in a tomato and chile sauce I’d learned while growing up in Portugal. I’d been making mussels in tomato sauce almost as long—during the summers I spent at a small house my mother owned outside Bordeaux.
Mussels are great because they can go head to head with bold ingredients like chorizo, pancetta, and garlic. Still, “the creamy broth is the star here,” so serve the dish with spoons plus plenty of crusty bread to “sop up every drop.” It’s excellent when made with vermouth, but if you get your hands on a bottle of Pineau des Charentes, a fortified French wine, use that. It “really puts this over the top.”
Recipe of the week
Mussels with chorizo
4 lbs mussels
2 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
7 oz smoked Spanish chorizo, cut into ½-inch dice
7 oz pancetta, also diced
6 large plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup dry white vermouth
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup crème fraîche
Flat-leaf parsley (5 or 6 sprigs)
Rinse mussels under cold running water. If any are open, lightly tap them against the sink. If they close up, they can be cooked. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onion, without stirring, until edges brown, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and stir until just fragrant. Move onion and garlic to one side of pot and add chorizo and pancetta to the other. Cook, stirring chorizo and pancetta occasionally, until they are lightly browned and the fat has rendered, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaves, and cook until tomatoes soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in vermouth and wine and bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring often, until liquid has reduced by about a quarter and tomatoes have broken down, about 10 minutes. Raise heat to high. Stir in crème fraîche and bring to a simmer. Add mussels, give them a good stir, and cover pot. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, giving the pot a vigorous shake now and then. After 5 minutes, check to see if mussels have opened. If not, cover and cook another minute or so until almost all are open. Remove from heat.
Coarsely chop parsley (you can include a bit of the stems) and stir in. Using tongs and a ladle, divide mussels and broth among shallow bowls. Serves 6.