Mortis Mussels (inspired by SBQ, Ep. 25)

PEI mussels are affordable, delicious, and best of all, completely sustainable!  PEI stands for Prince Edward Island, where these sweet, briny little nuggets are grown on offshore long-lines.  They are usually $5-$10 per sack at the fish counter, and cooking them couldn't be simpler.  This recipe can be completed quickly with minimal effort, and we make Mortis Mussels this way to snack on while cooking the main proteins/veggies for dinner.

What you will need:

  • Bushel of PEI Mussels (about 2 lbs., or 30-40 mussels)
  • 1/2-Bottle of White Wine (drinking quality)
  • 1.5-2 Tbsp Butter
  • Salt 'n Peppies
  • Fresh-Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1 Sprig of Rosemary, kept whole
  • Grill/Smoker (any kind)
  • Veggie-Grilling Basket/Tray
  • Smoking Wood (logs, chips, chunks, lump charcoal...whatevs)

How you do it:

  1. Keeping the mussels in their net bushel, thoroughly rinse them under the coldest water your tap can produce.  Do this with a plate in the bottom of the sink so that the sand and grit that are rinsed out don't Tatooine up your drain.  Dispose of the grit in the trash can, rinse the plate, then empty the bushel of mussels onto it.  ***IMPORTANT*** If any of the mussels are cracked, open-wide, or otherwise questionable of scent or demeanor, DON'T fuck around!  Toss them immediately.
  2. Get your smoker or gas grill heated to around 300 degrees-F.
  3. In a medium/large foil grill pan, combine the wine, butter, splash of lime, salt, and pepper.  Put pan on the grill furthest from heat source and allow it to warm.
  4. Put the (hopefully) still-live mussels into the veggie-grilling basket/tray, and add them to the grill closer to the heat source.  Keep your eye on them!  Rotate often, but keep the grill lid closed whenever possible.
  5. AS SOON AS you see the first mussels start to open, add them 4-5 at a time to the pan of wine and butter.  Let them finish opening in that pan.  You can use the rosemary sprig to baste the mussels as they're opening with the wine mix.
  6. The mussels are safely cooked when they are opened 45 degrees or wider.  They can be kept warm in the wine pan until you're ready to serve, and that liquid can be poured around the shells on your serving plate to add flavor and aroma to the presentation.
  7. IF you still have any mussels that are closed OR partly open but stubborn, you can try to finish them closer to the heat.  If they still do not open after another good hot-stint, consider them unsafe to eat and dispose of them.  DO NOT plate/eat any closed or peek-a-boo mussels.  Gaping Mortis-mouthed mussels only, please.

**Mortis Mussels are always great when paired with a dry white wine, or a citrusy brew.  Lime wedges on a cocktail glass will also go great with whatever libation you choose, and citrus/tart juices will help cut through the rich, smoky-sweet mussel flavor.