This recipe is a tribute to a fantastic restaurant that is sadly no longer with us. Burke’s in Seattle was known for its killer Cajun food. From pickled okra to spicy gumbo and delicious mussels and even a whiskey bread pudding that knocked you pleasantly on your ass at the end of the meal–this was the spot to go on a cold, rainy day (and in Seattle you had ample opportunity for such a day).
The reason behind the meal was two-fold. To bring back the classic and to boost my iron levels which were teetering on the precipice of system meltdown. Thanks to the good advice from my friend Melanie–who suggested mussels and raw spinach with lemon, I was back with a fighting spirit and ready to take on the culinary world once more.
2 T allspice
3 bay leaves
1 T cayenne
2 T coriander
1 T thyme
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp mace
1 cup white wine
1 cup sliced onion
1 cup green onions, sliced
8 cloves garlic, minced
14oz diced tomatoes
8oz tomato puree
48 oz clam juice
1 cup brown roux (1/2cup flour and 1/2 cup peanut oil)-optional: canola oil
2-3 lbs mussels
In a large stockpot over medium-high heat toast your spices for about 2 minutes. Stir them carefully and watch them to prevent them from scorching. Remove spices into a small bowl and reserve for later.
Deglaze the pan with white wine then add chopped onions, green onions, and garlic. Once onions are translucent, about 3-4minutes, remove into a medium bowl and reserve for later.
Next add your diced tomatoes, tomato puree, and clam juice to the stockpot. Bring to a boil. Return both your spices and your onion mixture to the stockpot. Simmer for 1 hr.
In a medium saute pan over medium high heat, combine your peanut oil and flour. Stir frequently, incorporating ingredients until they achieve a deep nutty color (similar to peanut butter–about 10 minutes).
After your stockpot has simmered for 1 hr incorporate roux slowly into the pot. Additional 10 minutes.
Scrub your mussels, removing their beards and any other grit/dirt. Remove any cracked/open mussels and discard them.
Add your mussels to your broth and boil for 5 minutes until mussels open. Ladle generously into a large soup bowl and serve with large chunks of bread (I love a good sourdough for this). This recipe also pairs wonderfully with spinach salad (see recipe below).
1 can white beans, rinsed, drained
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 large package fresh baby spinach
olive oil, salt, pepper-to taste
Heat shallots and white beans in a small saute pan and season with salt and pepper. Toss baby spinach with olive oil and lemon, top with white beans and shallots. Top with freshly ground pepper.