Thrace-Style Spicy Mussels
- SERVINGS: 4 to 6
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- One 2-inch cinnamon stick
- 3 pounds small mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 2/3 cup dry white wine
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3 small dried red chiles
- 1/4 cup finely shredded basil leaves
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 3 ounces Greek cow's milk feta, crumbled (1/2 cup)
- Sea salt
- In a large saucepan, cook 1 tablespoon of the butter over moderate heat until it sizzles. Add the cinnamon stick, mussels and white wine, cover and steam until the mussels open, about 2 minutes. Pour the mussels into a large strainer set over a bowl and let cool.
- Remove the mussels from their shells and place in a small bowl. Season with pepper and the lemon juice.
- Wipe out the saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter, the chiles and half of the basil and parsley and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Add the garlic, tomato paste and the reserved mussel cooking liquid and boil until the sauce has reduced to 1 cup. Remove from the heat and add the mussels.
- Dice the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Scatter the butter and the feta over the mussels and bring almost to a boil over moderate heat, swirling the pan to melt the butter and feta. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the remaining herbs and serve.
Chiles and feta will kill a subtle wine. So, go for a robust white from Greece or Spain.