I think long and hard before I add gadgets or tools to my kitchen, so whenever someone gives me an alternative or additional use for an appliance that really works, I do a little happy dance.
In February, a reader wrote in to ask about the utility of multicookers. Hannah Crowley, an executive editor for America’s Test Kitchen recommends various uses for the appliance, including for cooking seafood, something I had never done.
“Folks always think of meat for pressure cookers but since they create a steamy, enclosed environment, they’re great for fish because they keep it nice and moist and tender,” she wrote. “Mussels, too! When you steam mussels under pressure … every shell opens nice and evenly, with perfectly plump and juicy mussels, more so than on the stovetop.”
Mussels are not complicated on the stovetop, but you do often have to remove open ones while waiting for stubborn specimens that are slower to open. Crowley made the Instant Pot method sound so temptingly easy, I had to try making them this way. I used ATK’s technique, but altered the recipe a bit to suit my taste. They were the best mussels I’ve ever made, and so easy. Indeed, every one of them opened perfectly (if you have mussels that don’t open, discard them). This is how I’ll make them from now on.
To start, you set the multicooker to saute and let it heat up for a couple of minutes. Then, you add a bit of oil, shallots and leeks (or your favourite mussel-friendly alliums or vegetables) and cook just until softened before stirring in garlic and pepper flakes. When your vegetables look and smell just right, you and the sorted, cleaned mussels and pour the wine, water or stock and lemon juice over them.
After that, you cover, lock the pot, leave your timer at zero and select the pressure-cook option. The mussels cook while the pot comes up to pressure, which takes from six to 10 minutes, depending on your model and how full the pot is. Stay nearby, however, because you must do a quick release as soon as the appliance reaches pressure to prevent the mussels from overcooking.
No shaking. No stirring. You simply open the appliance and are greeted by the fragrant steam from the yummy sauce, which you’ll want to spoon over your mussels after you portion them out.
Don’t forget the crusty bread for dipping.
Instant pot mussels with leeks and white wine
Active time: 20 minutes | Total time: 30 minutes
Uncooked, fresh mussels can be placed in a colander set over a large bowl and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Top them with a bag of ice, if desired. Do not clean them until just before you are ready to cook. At that time, sort the mussels and discard any with cracked shells. The shells should be tightly closed. If not, give open mussels a gentle squeeze; if they close, keep them. If they do not react, discard.
Rinse the mussels under cold water, scrubbing if necessary, and, if desired, pull off the byssus, or beard, by grasping it with your thumb and forefinger and giving a sharp pull, or cut them off the shell.
Storage: Refrigerate for up to 1 day.
Notes: This recipe was tested using a 2.8L Instant Pot; the amount of liquid is enough to work in a 5.6L model, as well. For an 7.5L pot, you’ll need at least 473ml liquid.
If you prefer not to use wine, increase the stock to 1 cup.
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large shallot (about 115g), minced
1 medium leek (about 280g), trimmed, thinly sliced and washed
4 garlic cloves, minced or grated
½ tspcrushed red pepper flakes (optional)
900g mussels, cleaned and debearded (see headnote)
180ml dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc (see notes)
60ml water or vegetable stock
Juice of 1 large lemon (about 60ml)
Fresh parsley leaves, for serving (optional)
Warm crusty bread, for serving (optional)
Set a programmable multicooker (such as an Instant Pot; see notes) to saute. Let the pot heat for 2 minutes and then add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and leek and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mussels and pour the wine, water or stock and lemon juice over.
Cover the appliance with a lid and make sure the steam valve is sealed. Select pressure (high) and set the cook time to 0 minutes. (It should take 8 to 10 minutes for the appliance to come to pressure.) Once it reaches pressure, immediately release it manually by moving the pressure-release handle to “Venting”, covering your hand with a towel and making sure to keep your hand and face away from the vent when the steam releases.
Discard any mussels that have not opened. Transfer the mussels to individual serving bowls, and pour or ladle some of the sauce from the pot, sprinkle with the parsley, if using, and drizzle with extra oil, if desired.
Serve with warm bread for dipping, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving (about 20 mussels and 60ml sauce) | Calories: 672; total fat: 18g; satuated fat: 3g; cholesterol: 127mg; sodium: 1,338mg; carbohydrates: 53g; dietary fibre: 5g; sugar: 12g; protein: 58g.
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.
© The Washington Post