Archive for the 'on the grill' Category

Grilled Mussels with Garlic, Butter and Lemon

Grilled mussels 1

Guys! I’m sitting in the airport waiting to board a plane to Italy. ITALY! While I have been traveling a lot lately, I haven’t been to Europe since I was 15 and went one summer with my parents and sisters, at which time my only goals were to 1) get a tan, 2) seek out United Colours of Benetton stores in order to source an authentic green and white rugby shirt, and 3) flirt with cute Italian boys on scooters. (Mission accomplished.) I’m ecstatic and nervous, loaded down with work and reading material and snacks for the 9 1/2 hour flight to Frankfurt, and I can’t wait to find out if the pizzas and pastas taste as ethereal as they did to my 15 year old self.

Most of my packing time was spent packing up the kitchen, because while I spend my time sitting in Italian trattorias and visiting producers of pasta, balsamic vinegar, Parmesan and ham, Mike’s to-do list includes tearing out the kitchen. The timing was fortuitous – I’m sure I’d be almost as weepy pulling out my old counters as I was kissing W goodbye outside the airport. (Almost.)

grilled mussels Collage

While my parents had long since designed and built their own house by the time they were my age, we’ve never been big on home renos. Maybe you can tell? The process has been far longer than I anticipated – even the figuring out of what we want, what needs doing, and who needs to do it. I keep running into people who excitedly ask is my kitchen done yet?? And it’s not, but it’s on its way – I figure being without a kitchen is as good motivation as any to get moving on a new one, no? And as soon as I get back from Italy (squee!) it is ON.

(I’m also doing renos here, still. For real. I know.)

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My guess is we’re going to rely heavily on the barbecue – the timing is better than that year my parents did kitchen renos in the middle of winter – and really, it’s kind of like having an oven and stovetop outside anyway. I haven’t yet attempted a pot of oatmeal on it, but I did recently discover the joy of a batch of mussels cooked in their shells directly on the grill. Toss them on, close the lid, and in five minutes you have perfectly cooked mussels, ready to toss in garlicky butter. If you toss some lemon wedges or halves on the grill too, they’ll release more of their juice more easily over your warm mussels. If you’re a fan, there are few things better to eat on the patio in flip-flops, with cold beer or Prosecco, crusty bread and a few of your favourite people. Who needs a kitchen?

Grilled Mussels with Garlic, Butter & Lemon

1 lb fresh mussels
lemon wedges or halves
olive oil, for cooking
1/4 cup butter
1 garlic clove, peeled
fresh parsley, for garnish

While you preheat your grill to medium-high, rinse your mussels, discarding any that are already open. Cut the lemons in thick wedges or in half crosswise and brush the cut sides with oil.

Scatter the mussels directly on the grill along with the lemons, cut-side down. Close the lid of the grill and cook for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the butter and garlic clove in a small saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave until the butter melts.

Remove the mussels from the grill – they should all be open; discard any that don’t. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with the garlicky butter; toss to coat. (Alternatively, drizzle with olive oil.) Transfer to shallow bowls, scatter with parsley and serve with crusty bread and grilled lemon.

Serves 4.

(Note: I recently ran this recipe in a grilling story in the Calgary Herald – but it’s really more of a method, and people were so happy to hear they could grill fresh mussels that I thought I’d share it here, too!)

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June 07 2014 | on the grill and seafood | 14 Comments »

Salmon Burgers with Caper Mayo

salmon burgers 2

These. Seriously.

salmon burgers 6

I’ve had my share of salmon burgers – most of them frozen and shrinkwrapped, tasty but dry. I’ve never fallen in love with a salmon burger until today. These were made with fresh salmon – steelhead trout, actually – roughly chopped, which makes all the difference, texture-wise. Doing it in the food processor would turn them into paste – and using a knife took all of five minutes to produce a loose mixture that barely held its shape as a patty, but cooked up nicely as one, turning golden and crusty in a hot cast iron skillet. In about five minutes.

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I’m on a bit of a burger bender these days. (For charity, right? It’s the least I could do. Really.) And while I do adore a good beefy burger, I was challenged to come up with some alternatives to the usual red meat – and I’m so glad I was, or I would never have known these exist. They’re moist and juicy with a crunchy edge – lots of crispy bits – and the layers of veggies, tangy mayo and soft bun? Seriously.

salmon burgers 1

The tartar sauce: I feel like the term evokes images of pale yellow sauce in a jar, reserved for bad fish & chips. But. It’s really just a tangy mix of mayo and pickles – gerkhins and such – which sounds to me exactly what I’d love on any burger. This ramekin of mayo, lemon juice and capers is so much better than I imagined, I may have finished the lot, spooned directly over slabs of ripe tomato and cucumber, cut into thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler.

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I’m already plotting when we can be together again.

Salmon Burgers with Caper Mayo

Adapted from Ricardo – with massive thanks.

1 lb skinless salmon or steelhead trout
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/3 cup soft breadcrumbs
1 egg
1-2 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. grainy mustard
salt and pepper
canola or olive oil, for cooking

Caper Mayo:
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp. capers, drained and chopped
freshly ground black pepper

soft buns
thinly sliced cucumber

Roughly chop the salmon or trout, and combine it in a bowl with the remaining ingredients. Set a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of oil. Shape the mixture into four patties and place them gently into the pan; cook until deep golden on one side, then flip and cook on the other side – they should cook through and be crusty and golden in about 5 minutes.

To make the caper mayo, stir together the mayo, lemon juice, capers and pepper. Spread on the buns and top with salmon patties, tomato, lettuce and thinly sliced cucumber – and a little more caper mayo. Serve immediately.

Serves 6.

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May 06 2014 | on the grill and seafood | 23 Comments »

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