Fino-Steamed Mussels with Chorizo and White Beans
According to Ryan Pollnow, chef at San Francisco’s Basque-inspired restaurant Aatxe, “Chorizo makes everything better.” Here, it is used to enhance naturally lean mussels. The recipe makes more alioli (the Catalan name for France’s aioli) than you will need; the leftover garlicky sauce is an excellent dip for blanched vegetables.
For the alioli:
- 1 head garlic, left whole, plus 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 2 egg yolks
- Kosher salt
For the sofrito:
- 4 garlic cloves
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 Tbs. tomato paste
For the mussels:
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1/4 lb. (125 g) fresh chorizo
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) fino sherry
- 1 can (14 oz./440 g) Great Northern, cannellini or other white beans, drained
- 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) tomato juice
- 2 lb. (1 kg) mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- Juice of 1 to 2 lemons
- Leaves from 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
- Kosher salt
8 thick slices rustic sourdough bread, toasted or grilled until golden brown
Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).
To make the alioli, using a sharp knife, cut the top third off the head of garlic. Place the garlic on a square of aluminum foil and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Wrap the foil tightly around the garlic and transfer to the oven. Roast until the cloves are very tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the soft garlic pulp from 8 of the cloves into the bowl of a food processor. Save the remaining garlic pulp for another use.
Add the raw grated garlic, lemon juice and egg yolks to the food processor. Pulse several times to combine. With the motor running, add the 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) olive oil in a slow, steady stream and blend until the mixture emulsifies and is the consistency of mayonnaise. Transfer the alioli to a bowl and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To make the sofrito, place the garlic and salt in a mortar and grind to a paste using a pestle. Alternatively, finely chop the garlic, sprinkle with the salt, and mash with the side of a knife to create a paste.
In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and set aside.
To cook the mussels, in large pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring frequently, until browned and aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sofrito and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add the sherry and stir to scrape up any browned bits on the pot bottom. Add the beans and tomato juice and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the mussels and cover the pot. Steam the mussels until they open, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the lid and discard any mussels that have not opened. Stir in the juice of 1 lemon and the parsley and season with salt. Taste and season with additional lemon juice if desired.
To serve, spread an even layer of alioli on each slice of toasted bread. Divide the mussel mixture among 4 shallow bowls and serve each bowl with 2 slices of the toast alongside. Serves 4.
Ryan Pollnow, chef, Aatxe, San Francisco, CA