Once upon a time in Texas, there was a girl with an appetite and a dream...


'Mpepata di Cozze

That's Peppered Mussels. The spelling is in the Napoletano dialect, as it is a typical dish from 'round these parts. It is splendid simplicity as its most Italian!

I won't give a recipe, so to speak, as it is too easy to require the strain I would put on my brain trying to figure out how many mussels go for each person, all while converting into the metric kilo and back to pounds.

So, here is the procedure:
Find the absolute freshest** mussels that you can, and get as many as you need for the number of people you want to serve. Scrub them and let them sit in salty water long enough to open and expel any sand they might be clinging to. (I like to call the sand a little piece of home...) This should all take about 45 minutes with a couple of changes of water.

Drain all of the water and put them directly into a deep pan or pot and turn the heat to med or med high. For this preparation, there is no need for added liquid. Cover the pot and let them cook for about 10 minutes, or until all mussels have opened. It may take more or less time, just keep an eye on them, as soon as they are open, they're done.

Take the mussels out (discarding any mussel that hasn't opened), put them into a bowl, and ladle the liquid over (there will be liquid from the mussels themselves). Douse them with tons of FRESHly ground black pepper and squeeze lemon juice on top. It really is that simple...

**Dishes like this are so good here because the quality and freshness of the seafood is spectacular. (If you can find wild mussels where you are, splurge!! There is no comparison to the cultivated ones.) Just try to find the best mussels that you can--they should smell a little sweet and seawater-briny, like a piece of underwater heaven. If you should happen upon a "turdy" smell, go somewhere else. (I am sorry, but that is the best way to describe it, turdy. Very unpleasant...in a turdy kind of way.)

Now, if you don't go get the white wine, get in that kitchen, and start cookin', I won't be giving you any more recipes... ;)


Blogger nyasha said...

yes ma'am! ;) Mi piace tutta la roba italiana, dunque....

3/15/2006 3:38 AM

Blogger Tracie B. said...

so you speak italian? ARE you italian? do tell...

3/15/2006 4:06 AM

Blogger Maccanena said...

I love mussels prepared like this! Our variation in my little corner of Spain is to add whole peppercorns and lemon wedges to the pot while they are cooking. You should try it!

3/15/2006 4:24 AM

Blogger nyasha said...

no, am not, but lived 4 years in Rome and loved it ;) my italian is fading though - lack of practice.

3/15/2006 4:41 AM

Blogger Ginnie said...

Donica would absolutely love this! I'm still a bit squeamish about mussels but am not sure why. Maybe I got a turdy smell once and got turned off. Anyway, I watched Donica eat "mussels in Brussels" once. How fun, just to say it :)

Don't tell me you're another one of "those" cooks!

3/15/2006 2:41 PM

Blogger Tracie B. said...

mussels of brussels?? i thought that was what they called jean-claude van damme...

3/15/2006 3:04 PM

Blogger Expat Traveler said...

Mmmmmm - that does sound wonderful.

3/15/2006 8:47 PM

Blogger nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

sounds amazing. I will have to try them.

LOL...love the Muscles from Brussels reference.

3/16/2006 8:33 AM

Anonymous franca said...

Hi Tracie.

My mother, who's originally from Moiano (Provincia di Benevento) prepares her mussels this way. And even though they taste great, it's not the same taste as if we had them in Italy :(. Oh well.

Hey, when you open your B&B, will you be preparing your guests' breakfast and snacks? :)

3/16/2006 11:02 AM

Blogger Tracie B. said...

hhmmm, IF we ge to open a b&b, yes, we will offer breakfast--and the mussels we get in the states will never taste like the ones from the mediterranean! sorry :/

is your mom a padre pio fan?

3/16/2006 11:06 AM

Anonymous franca said...

My father is a fan of Padre Pio more than my mother...he comes from Vieste (Foggia). :)

3/16/2006 11:17 AM


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