10 February 2012

Mussels Stuffed with Union Square Café's Recipe

Heard my hard luck story on mussels? I had grand plans to post Melissa Hamilton's recipe for broiled mussels last Thursday, had all the ingredients except the freshest of mussels. Went to get them at the market and horrors! there were none to be had ... well, THAT post went by the boards! Yesterday, I was researching other shellfish recipes and found this delectable stuffing for littleneck clams, but I thought ... my! that would be terrific over the top of  mussels! Off to the market again and score! The freshest of mussels, a bit of white wine, orange zest and juice, vegetables and just a dusting of bread crumbs. Voila! A platter of mussels, a salad, and white wine for dinner!

I will freely rave about the results here. The topping for these mussels packs a lot of flavour. I decreased the butter by one tablespoon to lighten the dish a bit and was very spare on the bread crumbs, but I can imagine that the last  tablespoon of butter melted and tossed with Panko would make this an even more sumptuous dish. I also had double the number of mussels, so I doubled up the smaller ones in the half-shells with other small ones and decreased a bit the amount of topping on all the mussels to make the topping go the distance. It was just fine! In fact, the smaller 'bite' caused SB and I to think that these would be perfect cocktail fare. To boot, the dish can be made ahead to the point of popping the mussels under the broiler. Just look at the ingredients in this topping ... so delish! Use littleneck clams or mussels, but do try this recipe!

Union Square Café’s Baked Stuffed Littleneck Clams (or Mussels!)


24 very fresh littlenecks, well-scrubbed OR mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
¼ c. white wine
4 tbsp. butter
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
2 tbsp. shallots, finely chopped
2 tbsp. hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped
⅛ tsp. black pepper
A good pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp. orange zest plus the juice of two oranges (¾ c. to 1 c. of orange juice)
1 tbsp. fresh parsley minced
¼ to ⅓ c. Panko/bread crumbs

Making the dish:

1. Pour the wine into the bottom of a deep stockpot and dump the cold washed mussels or clams into the pan. Cover and bring the pan to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer, cooking about 5 minutes until the shells have opened. Jostle the pan a bit during cooking to allow the shellfish to shift about.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and drain the broth, reserving it for use.

3. Place the cooked shellfish in a large colander and allow them to cool. Discard any shells that have not opened.

4. In a non-stick pan, melt 1 tbsp. of the butter and add the celery and shallots, cooking until they sweat and soften.

5. Add the hazelnuts, the black pepper, and the cayenne and stir to incorporate the spices. Pour the reserved shellfish broth and the orange juice and bring the heat up to boil the mixture.

6. Let the mixture boil until the fluid is almost gone. It will resemble a thick syrup that bubbles at the edges of the pan and coats the vegetables and nuts.

7. Scrape this mixture into a bowl and add the parsley. Place the mixture in a fridge to cool while you deal with the cooled shellfish.

8. Pull the shells apart and place one half on an oven-proof platter to receive the clam/mussel and topping. Place one little guy in each shell. Nestle the shells so that they are stable and won’t tip when moved between workspace, oven, and table.

9. When the topping mixture has cooled, but is still just a bit warm, place 2 tbsp. butter and the orange zest in and mix it to a spreadable consistency.

10. Place small dollops of the topping atop each little shellfish.

11. Melt the last tablespoon of butter and toss it in the bread crumbs. Then, sprinkle a coating of bread crumbs atop each shell.

12. Turn a broiler on a low setting, position the rack in the middle of the oven, and place the platter in the center of the rack.

13. Bake/broil the shellfish for about 4 to 5 minutes. The bread crumbs should be browned and the juices of the topping bubbling a bit.

14. Serve immediately with a cold crisp white wine, a piece of bread for wiping out the shells, and a bowl of crispy green salad.

Note: When prepping the shellfish, always buy more than what the recipe stipulates to allow for the occasional ‘dead’ guy that must be discarded. If all the shellfish are good, double up some of the guys with each other on the half-shells … it makes for a cozy double hit of the sea!


  1. LOVE mussels, but have never heard of this way to serve them; sounds so good and a taste sensation.

  2. its been ages since I had mussels and I love them!... we used to do 'mussel pizza' which was actually just mussels served like you've done, in a circle... very very nice!

  3. That you added hazelnuts to your mussels makes me want to worship you SUSAN! :)

    What an excellent parallel to Oysters Rockerfeller! HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY TO YOU & YOURS :)

    chow :) Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  4. Yum yum yum! Mussels are a huge favourite in our house, and as it turns out, actually quite reasonably priced at the fishmongers too... so this dish has been bookmarked! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Sounds (and looks) delicious - I love the idea of the orange in there. Hope they have mussels in the fish mongers next week!

  6. I love mussels too...had them last night in fact. I can't wait to try them this way too.

  7. I love mussels and your recipe looks amazing!

  8. I get mussels for am appetizer almost anytime we go out. I love them any which way I can get them. The recipe sounds yummy and the hazelnuts are an unexpected ingredient. I could eat two platters no sweat.


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