Mussels in a Chorizo, Tomatoes & Cream Sauce

Mussels steamed in a chorizo, tomatoes, tarragon and cream sauce.

The power to choose.  That is a power we have more often than we think, because it's in the everyday details that we put into practice this option.  During the last couple of weeks we have heard voices talking about equality.  With all the hats it could wear.  As a woman, mother of a girl, and a girl with special needs, this keeps me thinking if there is ever going to be a global mentality on equality.  I’m being too deep for a food blog?  I don’t know.  Let’s keep talking.

More than a global fight, it begins with the choices we make everyday.  Ahh, here it is: the power to choose.  To choose what role you want to play in your own life, in your family’s life and in you friend’s life.  Of course there will be moments when it's impossible to choose, so cherish the things you can take control of, no matter how small they seem.  This will make you feel empowered.  Proud of being you.  Never let that power go, if not for you, at least for the thousand of persons who don’t have it.  That is when you will feel equal to any human being.

Tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, tarragon and wine to make steamed mussels.

I really enjoy my job as a mother.  And running a household.  My husband also really enjoys being a father.  And running a household too.  But that is a choice I learned to make.  Yes.  I had to learn to make a choice based on what I wanted for my life.  Our lives.  Not let historic roles or stereotypes make it’s way into my head when it was decision time.  And believe me, for him, it was a choice he had to learn to make too.

For that, we like to spend our time as a family in simple but memorable ways.  We like to celebrate our days everyday.  Us being together, our daughter being healthy, there's nothing more we could ask for.  Therefore, no matter how rush or busy we could be, as the last couple of weeks have been for us, we choose to have parentheses with moments to appreciate what is going on around.  And I choose to cook.  At the end we need to eat no matter what, but I’m choosing how to.  Because maybe that is the only thing you could choose entirely on your day.  So better make it worthy.  That is my power.  Thus, for making a week night into a 45 minutes date night I cooked this lovely meal, filled with warmth, lots of good thing and cream.

The best to eat the mussels is with crusty warm bread that you could dunk in the cream sauce.

I really enjoy cooking mussels.  You need only 30 or 40 minutes for cooking them in very simple ways, nevertheless they make a stunning and romantic presentation.  The sauce is smashing, with all the chorizo and tarragon flavors.  You can serve it in a small tray or in a big pot with friends around, everyone soaking the bread in the sauce and sipping wine. 

Was this too deep for a food blog?  I will choose no.  With the power of having control over the mood, nutrition and experience you and your family will be having for a couple of hours, I’ll have to say the kitchen is a powerful place to make our own the power to choose.

The best way to serve mussels is also with great white wine.


Mussels in a chorizo, tomato and cream sauce
2 persons for main course or 4 persons as tapas
Total time – 40 minutes  Active time – 20 minutes
Equipment – Cast iron or deep sauté pan

Note on mussels:  When working with mussels, remember these are still living things, you have to manage them very carefully.  Discard any with chipped or broken shells.  Take them out of the fridge when you are ready to prepare and cook them.  They are very sensitive to changes in temperature so probably a couple of them will begin to open as soon as they feel they are out of the fridge.  Tap it 3 or 4 times over the counter and wait a couple of minutes for it to close.  If it doesn’t close, discard it.  Scrub each one with a small brush and pull the threads that come out from the shells (beards).  You’ll have to pull strongly on some of them.  You may see some threads around the mussels but that is fine.  They are not harmful.  I like to place each mussel in an ice water bowl as soon as I clean it.  That way they will keep cool and remain closed until I finish with all of the mussels.  Discard any mussel that didn’t open while cooking.

Mussels, scrubbed and washed – 2 or 3 lbs. (50 to 60 pieces approximately)
Olive oil – 3 TBSP
Unsalted butter – 3 TBSP
Spanish (yellow) onion, diced – ½ cup
Spanish style chorizo, chopped in small cubes – ½ cup
Plum or Roma tomatoes, diced – ½ cup to cook and ½ cup to serve
Fine sea salt – ¾ Tbsp
Freshly ground black pepper – ½ Tbsp
Fresh tarragon, minced – ¼ cup
Garlic, finely minced or ground with olive oil – 2 cloves
White wine – ½ cup
Seafood stock – 1 ½ cups
Heavy cream – 5 TBSP
Fresh cilantro – bunch to serve

In a cast iron or deep stainless steel sauté pan pour the olive oil with the butter in medium heat.  When the butter begins to melt, add the onion and the chorizo and using a wooden spoon sauté everything until the butter is almost clarified and the onions look glossy and transparent, 2 to 3 minutes.  Keep moving every couple of seconds so the onions don’t burn.  Add the tomatoes, tarragon and garlic and sauté for 1 or 2 minutes more, so you tenderize the tomatoes.  Add the salt and pepper and sauté for 2 more minutes, moving constantly.  You should see everything kind of melted into each other and well combined.

Add the white wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan (scratching every brown bit you see!).  Cook 4 to 5 minutes more, until the sauce starts to reduce and gets thicker.  Add the seafood stock and combine everything.

Dunk in the mussels.   Revolve a little bit and cook with the lid on for 5 to 6 minutes, until all the mussels are open.  If not all are open, move them around, cover and cook for 1 more minute.

Take the lid off and discard any closed mussels.  Add the cream and cook uncovered for 5 minutes, until the sauce reduces and thickens so you have a creamier consistency.

Take off the heat, add the fresh diced tomatoes to the pan and sprinkle the cilantro.  Serve with lots of warm bread and wine.