Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Sep 20, 2011

Mussels Manhattan

Libations used: Enough whiskey, dry vermouth and bitters to make a Manhattan
Libations left over: Make yourself a Manhattan!
I heart Manhattans (not as much as Old Fashioneds, but pretty close) and I heart mussels.  So when I saw this recipe come through on Tasting Table, I had a serious happy moment.  My culinary geeking out was kicked up another notch when I saw the recipe was from Holland House Bar & Refuge in Nashville, Tennessee.  I had gone to Nashville last fall for a business trip, and being the lush I am, I quickly found out where all the best cocktail dens were (The Patterson House is another fave).  The restaurant/bar is located in an old grocery store in a quiet neighborhood and only opened about a year and a half ago.  It was redone to have a classy vintage look with plenty of warm woods, velvet furniture, crystal chandeliers and old books tucked away.  The menu is broken down into historical classics and vintage-inspired contemporary cocktails.  Food is seasonal and combines French and Southern influences.

I ended up doubling this recipe and buying about 2 1/2 pounds of mussels at Santa Monica Seafood because I was making this for a main course.   Most of the alcohol burns off with the cooking, but it leaves you with a light Manhattan flavor.  The broth was so good that we heated it up again and toasted some more bread to soak it all up!  Please note that I used Tasting Table's pic because we devoured the mussels before a lovely photo could be taken, but looks like that!

Mussels Manhattan - serves 2 for appetizers 
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound mussels, beards removed
  • 1/4 cup rye whiskey (the chef recommends Jim Beam or I used Bulleit's new rye)
  • 2 Tbs dry Italian vermouth (chef recommends Noilly Prat or I used Martini & Rossi)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter (I used only 3 when I doubled this recipe, so I recommend using 1 1/2 Tbs)
  • salt (I cut this out because the stock already had enough salt content)
  • 1 Tbs shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh basil
  • Toasted french bread rounds
- In a medium skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the garlic and mussels.
- Quickly and carefully add the whiskey, vermouth and bitters because it could flame up.  I actually combined the liquor in one bowl so I could add it all in together.
- Stir in the vegetable stock and butter.
- Simmer until the mussels have opened (4-6 minutes).
- Transfer them to a serving bowl and top with cheese and basil.  Serve immediately with the toasted bread.