MUSSELS MARATHON 2012..COZZE IMPANATE(STUFFED MUSSELS)
For the last 3 days I've been on a bit of a Mussels Marathon. I made a tray of Mussels for work on Friday
and prepared it in the "Zuppa " style. Simply, it's a chunky sauce of Italian Plum Tomatoes, garlic, olive oil,
parsley, lemon, wine, and a pinch or more of that ubiquitous ingredient in Southern Italian dishes, peperoncino,
dried red chile flakes. You know, the one on the Pizzeria counter, and the one that has to be refilled more than
any other container besides Pecorino Romano in my home. I over bought on the mussels..which were a mix
of fresh PEI cultivated mussels and Wild Caught Maine Mussels. They are so easy to prepare, and so cheap,
really cheap...the PEI mussels were 5.99 for a bag, about 2 lbs, about 40 small to medium in each bag, they
vary in actual amounts of mussels. So yesterday I'm looking at the mussels i hadn't yet cooked and didn't
really want them as an entree again so I decided to make them as a starter and thought I would be nice to
make them in what some people probably think is an Italian-American way to make them, but...it's a dish
that does come from various towns in Southern Italy. COZZE IMPANATE, translated as Breaded Mussels
can be made either truly Breaded and fried, called Impanate Fritte, or, on the 1/2 shell, lightly steamed, then
topped with the breadcrumbs and baked, called Cozze Impanate al Forno.
Three bags of mussels (6 lbs) came to just over 16.00.
And the dishes they create (i cooked lunch for 10, dinner for 4, appetizers for 8 ) out of that. Seriously? With
a family meal at Sonic costing 27.00 (please, let's not talk about that disaster of a meal, but the kids begged, and
really, we don't eat that crap every night , so..a new one opened in our town, none of us had been there, and we
had a nasty meal. Don't get me wrong, I'm not the food police and think eating occasional fast food is evil..but
this was lousy. $27.00. I might as well have thrown the money out the car window, lesson learned) how awesome
is the price of a bag of mussels?? The combo of olive oil, garlic/shallot/or onion/ tomatoes or herbs/ some kind of
wine is just priceless. So , start off these Impanate by steaming them in some crushed San Marzano or Italian\
Plum tomatoes with some olive oil just till the open. For 6 mussels per person for 6 ( a good appetizer portion)
steam 36 mussels in a pan, covered, for about 6 minutes, they will just start to open. Then remove from the
heat and remove the mussels to a pan. Crack the shell off without the mussel meat. Line them up in a lightly
Time to make the stuffing (probably best to do this about 1/2 hour before you steam the mussels). In a bowl,
mix 3 tbs of chopped fresh oregano and fresh parsley, chop it fine. Add 1/8 cup grated Pecorino Romano, 1 cup
of unseasoned BreadCrumbs, 1 tsp. finely grated or minced lemon zest, 2 tbs. of the tomato chunks from the
steaming (oooo, lots of flavor layering here...), 1/2 tsp. of Peperoncino, 1 tsp. chopped capers, 2 finely minced
garlic cloves, 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice, 2 tsp. White Wine or Vermouth and a pinch
of kosher salt. Mix this all up till it's a combined mixture.
Take your pan of mussels: and cover
each mussel with a little over a tablespoon or so of the mixture, careful not to over pack them. Then line them
back up onto the pan.
Drizzle the tops with some olive oil.
Turn on your broiler and pre-heat the oven for 5 minutes. Place the pan on the middle rack (this is if you
have an in-stove broiler) and keeping an eye on them, broil them for about 8 minutes, or just until the
tops start to brown. That's all it takes. You can also pre heat the oven to 450 degrees and bake them until
the tops start to brown. Could take 10 minutes. Take out, squeeze some lemon over the tops. Let them
sit for about 5 minutes, then serve. Delicious!
Make these as part of a hot antipasto, a party starter, or a dinner party starter. They look and taste like they
are an expensive dish, one that you really slaved over, but seriously, you will make these again and again.
Happy Mussel Marathon 2012 (i just made that up...lol) and tomorrow, I will blog another Mussel recipe,
Marathon parte deux.