Shrimp, Beer & Old Spice…I mean Old Bay

We decided to push things a little this weekend regarding John’s potential shellfish allergy.  We do live close to a hospital and the allergy hasn’t been confirmed; plus it seems like I’ve got a lot of recipes that involve shrimp, lobster, crab… but as I make up the week’s menu I’ll ask John “how about… oh wait, no that’s shellfish you’d better not”.  He couldn’t take it anymore so we agreed on this unbelievable shrimp recipe that goes very well with basic risotto. The  rule was:  just eat a little and if you break out into that rash again and start gasping, I’ll just shoot you with my epi-pen.  I figured we’d given the shellfish a break for a couple of weeks and maybe in small portions it would be fine (he was fine so maybe the rash was caused by the IRS after all).  What makes this such an easy dish to prepare is that you can just dump everything into a big pot minus the shrimp while you get the risotto or pasta ready.


1     Bottle of beer (your preference)
2     Teaspoons salt
4     Bay leaves
1     Tablespoon thyme – or a bunch of fresh sprigs
6     Cloves garlic – peeled & smooshed
1     Tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
2-3  Lemons – quartered
1     Lb. jumbo shrimp – rinsed & peeled

Fill a large pot with about 1 1/2 quarts water.  Dump a beer in then add salt, bay leaves, thyme, garlic and Old Bay Seasoning.  Squeeze the lemon juice then toss in the quarters.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes for flavors to combine then add shrimp for about 3 minutes, just until they’re pink.  Can be served with fettuccine but I like it best with basic risotto (which we had with broccoli).

Seconds weren’t an option this time for John but he enjoyed it enough to at least wish for more.

Mussels in buttery, garlic sauce

Alas, this could very well be my last shellfish recipe.  I love lobster, clams, mussels, crab… but last week I made my lobster risotto and my husband got this weird rash.  Huh, maybe poison ivy although I couldn’t figure where he’d pick that up since he’s either been in the office or swearing at the computer doing taxes.  But the rash went away and I figured the IRS can give anyone a rash.  Friday was Yama Zakura (best sushi place ever, in Northboro, MA) take-out night and we both got their unbelievable Lobster Bombs. Oh are they gooood.  Until John started itching again.  Hmmm, maybe just a flair up of the IRS rash and I suggested smearing that wasabi gunk on his arms.  Then I noticed that Hannaford had mussels on sale & I’ve been wanting to try Tyler Florence’s Creamy Garlicky Mussels recipe. After John’s rash came back during dinner, I’m going to go with a newly developed shellfish allergy.  But I have to tell you, this recipe is worth any rash you might get.  Even if you don’t care for mussels, soaking fresh French bread in the butter garlic sauce is well worth it.


This is a potentially hazardous recipe in the wrong hands (like mine).  I think I’ve mentioned that a successful meal for me is one where the smoke alarm doesn’t go off & I don’t end up at the ER getting stitches.  As Mrs. Tewksbury, my old Home Ec teacher always said “read through the entire recipe before you start”.  Yeah, yeah, yeah… I glanced at the ingredients, had them all and figured I was good to go.  Then I got to the final step of making the cream sauce & ol’ Tyler says to “buzz the liquid” with an immersion blender!  Huh?  Since I don’t know what an immersion blender is (although I would guess it’s something you could take in the bathtub to make foamy bubbles), I figured out that I didn’t have one of those.  No problem though…

The hint was the word blender.  But that was in the pantry.  Right next to the stove though, is the mixer.  I didn’t want the mussels to get cold so I just dumped the liquid into the mixer & just like Tyler says “put the meat from 10 mussels in the liquid & buzzed“.  Next thing I know, I got hit between the eyes with a mussel blob – then as all the mussels started hitting the beaters I had a tsunami of broth and mussels spraying all over me, the counters, walls… was like being in a paintball fight.  Man those little bastards can fly!

Using the cookbook as a shield I finally got the mixer turned off, rescued enough broth for dipping & we did finally get to eat but you need to know that if you don’t get all the mussels out of your hair before they dry, it’s like trying to get Gorilla Glue out and may require cutting.  I guess if you don’t have an immersion blender, then a regular blender should do – anything to keep these little buggers confined.  That said, the mussels were great over fettuccine and the garlic dipping sauce was awesome.  So I’ve warned you – read the instructions & have the blender handy.

Creamy Garlicky Mussels

4     lbs. mussels
4     TBL butter
2     TBL olive oil
2     Cloves minced garlic
4     Sprigs fresh thyme
1/2  Lemon, thinly sliced
3/4  Cup dry white wine
1/2  Cup chicken broth

– Scrub mussels under running water, discarding any with broken shells or that remain open after running under water (you can also remove any that are closed after cooking).  Melt 2 TBL butter with olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Add garlic, thyme, and lemon slices for about 5 minutes.  Add the mussels, stirring to coat with flavorings.  Add wine, then chicken broth; cover and steam for 10-12 minutes until the mussels have opened.

– Remove mussels, discarding any that haven’t opened.  Take the meat from 10-12 of the mussels and return to the pot with the remaining 2 TBL of butter.  Using an immersion blender (if you too are without an immersion blender, then put the meat & liquid into a regular blender) and buzz the liquid until the sauce thickens and becomes creamy.

– I served this with fettuccine, grated parmesan, and warm slices of French bread.