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Mussels All'amatriciana

Chef Lou / Castle Hill Inn

for the broth

½ cup onions, peeled and sliced

½ cup bell peppers, sliced

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

8 oz guanciale, diced small (pancetta works as a good substitute)

1 cup white wine

3 lbs plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

¼ teaspoon fennel seed, toasted and ground

Pinch of crushed red chile flakes

1 tsp canola oil

for the aioli

1 cup oil

1 egg yolk

1 tbs Dijon mustard

1 tbs lemon juice

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 bell pepper, roasted and peeled

Salt and pepper to taste

to finish

2 lbs Whitewater Mussels

4 slices focaccia bread

1 garlic clove, cut in half

Reserved aioli

Reserved tomato sauce

2 tbs butter

2 oz fresh basil

Procedure for the broth

  • To peel the tomatoes, boil a large pot of water.  Using a sharp knife, make an X on the tip of each tomato.  Prepare an ice bath and dip the tomatoes in the boiling water 3-4 at a time for about 10 seconds.  Immediately transfer them to the ice bath to stop the cooking process.  The skin should peel off easily.
  • Preheat a saucepot over medium heat. Add the canola oil and the guanciale.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • Once the guanciale starts to brown, add the onions and peppers, season with salt and pepper, and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. 
  • Once the vegetables have started to cook down, add the sliced garlic, reduce the heat, and cook for 2-3 minutes. 
  • Add the white wine and reduce by 2/3. 
  • Add the tomatoes, fennel seed, and chile flakes and season with salt and pepper again. 
  • Cover and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes to break down the tomatoes.
  • Reserve the broth.

for the aioli

  • Combine the egg yolk, garlic, Dijon, lemon juice, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processer.  With the machine running, slowly stream in the oil, a few drops at a time in the beginning, slowly increasing the speed as the mixture thickens. 
  • Once you’ve added half the oil, add the bell pepper, and then stream in the remaining oil.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice as desired.

to finish

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Wash the mussels in cold water and pull off any beards that you find.
  • Transfer your tomato sauce to a pot large enough to hold all the mussels and bring it up to a simmer.
  • Lay out sliced focaccia bread on a sheet pan, and toast in the oven until crisp.When toasted, remove and immediately rub the sliced side of the garlic clove on the bread while it’s still hot.Reserve toast until ready to serve.
  • Add your mussels and butter to the pot, cover, and cook until the mussels just start to open.
  • Add the basil and cook for 30 more seconds.All the mussels should be open and slightly firm to the touch, but not rubbery.
  • Transfer the mussels to a serving bowl, making sure to include all the broth.
  • Spread some of the red pepper aioli on the toast and serve on the side.