Recipe by Eric Joppie, OP Northwest Executive Chef
I love the classic Iberian combination of chorizo and shellfish. The mussels we get from Taylor Shellfish are cultured in the cold waters of Totten Inlet and are super plump, so try to find Washington mussels if possible. The trick to this dish is rendering the thinly sliced chorizo in olive oil, then using that oil to cook and flavor the other elements.
Yield: 4 appetizer servings
3 large celery stalks
1 cup white wine
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
I cup water
32 large mussels (about 2 pounds)
1 OP hard chorizo (Rioja, Andalucia, or Navarre)
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound fingerling potatoes, washed, not peeled
1 bunch chives, minced
Slice the celery diagonally into one-inch lengths. In a large saucepan, combine the celery, wine, lemon juice and zest, sugar, salt, and water, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Poach the celery until just tender. Let cool, then strain, reserving both the celery and cooking liquid.
Wash and beard the mussels, then drain them. Place a large sauté pan over high heat and allow it to get very hot (about 1 minute), then add the mussels and cover the pan. Shake the pan over the heat for about 30 seconds. Remove the lid and check the mussels; when they begin to open, remove them from the heat and allow them to cool to room temperature. Reserve the mussel juice. Remove the mussels from their shells, place them in a small bowl, and pour a quarter cup of strained mussel juice and one cup of celery poaching liquid over them (reserve the rest of the juice for another use).
Peel and slice the chorizo into thin coins, and place in a large sauté pan with the olive oil. Cook on medium heat until the chorizo is sizzling and the oil is foamy, about three minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature, then strain the oil from the chorizo and add a half cup to the mussels, reserving the rest. Stir the mussels carefully in their marinade, then refrigerate for up to three days. (If you refrigerate the marinated mussels, make sure they are are brought to room temperature before serving.)
Place the fingerling potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Season the water well with salt (it should taste like the ocean). Bring the water to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes). Drain the potatoes, cool to room temperature, and quarter. Refrigerate for up to three days, if not making the recipe immediately.
To assemble the dish, heat the reserved chorizo oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering and lightly smoking, add the potatoes and sauté until crispy on one surface (about two minutes), then flip and crisp for 30 seconds on the other side. Add the celery and rendered chorizo, and warm through.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow the ingredients to cool slightly. Toss the mixture with the chives and divide among four shallow bowls. Place eight beautiful mussels around and on the warm vegetable salad. Whisk the mussel marinade briefly, then drizzle two tablespoons over each dish.