A few weeks ago, I saw Chef Geoffrey Zakarian make slow cooker mussels on Food Network’s The Kitchen. While I was skeptical of making mussels in the slow cooker, I decided to try this recipe for dinner with my friends. I trusted that GZ would not lead me wrong.
The prep for this dish was very quick; I had to prep a few vegetables, but nothing too time consuming. One thing to note is that the recipe says to boil the potatoes beforehand, but on the show GZ said to put the potatoes in the crockpot raw. I forgot he said that and ended up cooking the potatoes for about 15 minutes before putting them in the slow cooker. In the end, I felt the texture of the potatoes was superb. They were not overcooked.
With an hour left in cooking, my friends and I started prepping the sides. My friend Chris made roasted asparagus with olive oil and garlic pepper. When ready to serve, he finished it off with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.
I also made a loaf of garlic bread (and yes, the three of ate finished off the entire loaf). To make the bread, I took a stick of slightly softened butter and mixed in five cloves of garlic and some Italian seasoning. I would have preferred to use fresh parsley, but I didn’t think of that at the store. I baked the bread for about 20 minutes and then finished it under the broiler for a couple minutes to get it nice and crispy. While the bread was in the oven with the asparagus, I put the mussels on top of the potatoes and broth to steam.
Cooking Tip: Do not put your hungry friend with little self-control in charge of monitoring the garlic bread. They will end up eating a substantial amount of the bread before the main dish is served.
The mussels took longer to open than I thought. However, when we were able to eat, we were not disappointed. This dish is seriously out of bounds. Before serving, I added a half cup of sour cream to the bottom of the crockpot and gave it a quick stir for a creamy finish, and then I sprinkled chopped scallions on top. I guess GZ does know what he is doing. I suppose that is why he has earned the title of Iron Chef.
For never having made mussels before (though I have eaten plenty) I was nervous about how these would turn out. The potatoes in that creamy broth were tantalizingly good though. The mussels were cooked well and added some nice flavor to the broth…and that garlic bread. That bread dipped in the broth with some of the shallots was just the perfect bite.
We had some spritz while eating our mussels, which is now our favorite summer drink. By the end of the meal, I was in mega food coma with the added sleepiness from the alcohol. It was an amazing meal and an amazing way to finish the weekend with my friends.
What to Do with the Leftovers
I personally do not recommend keeping leftover mussels. There is not a substantial amount of meat in mussels, so I say just eat them all. If you are going to save leftover mussels, take them out of the shells before packing in the fridge. We did finish all our mussels. However, there was a good bit of broth leftover and a few potatoes. I decided to save the broth and see if I could make a nice sauce from it. I am not a fan of food waste, and I am always looking for ways to repurpose leftovers, even if it is just pieces of a dish.
I can confirm that this broth turned into an excellent sauce. I started by making a roux with melted butter and flour, whisking together until a little bubbly. I added just a couple splashes of almond milk (since I didn’t have any regular milk) and whisked until thickened. Then I plopped in the leftover broth, potatoes and all and let simmer for a few minutes.
To use this sauce, I cooked one cup of jasmine rice and sautéed some chicken breast cut into pieces in my cast iron skillet. I took some rice, added some chicken, and topped it with the sauce. It was a delicious way to repurpose that broth, and I am actually getting several servings of a whole new meal with it.