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Open Kitchen, A Chef's Day at The Inn at Bay Fortune
Open Kitchen, A Chef's Day at The Inn at Bay Fortune" by Chef Emeritus Michael Smith,
ISLAND BLUE MUSSEL AND SWEET POTATO CHOWDER WITH SPICY BUTTER SWIRLS
During Michael's tenure, his was the single most requested recipe at the Inn, and a great way to show off the sweetness of our native mussels. Prince Edward Island mussels are available all over North America. They are easy to work with, their beards have been removed for you, and they are grit free because they are farm raised.
4 TO 6 SERVINGS
ISLAND BLUE MUSSEL AND SWEET POTATO CHOWDER
5 pounds island blue mussels
4 tablespoons water
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
4 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium carrots, grated
2 medium sweet potatoes, grated 2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Bay Fortune seasoning (see Chef's Hint below)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Tabasco
PLACE the mussels and water in a pot with a tight fitting lid. Place the pot over high heat and steam the mussels for 10 to 12 minutes until the shells open. Discard any mussels that don;t open. Remove the meat from the shells, and set the meat aside. Reserve some shells to use in the presentation. Strain and reserve the remaining liquid.
IN a large pot, sauté the onion in the butter over high heat for about 10 minutes. Stir frequently, and turn the heat down slowly every few ;minutes to prevent burning. Add the garlic and contine cooking until the onion is golden brown. Add the carrot, sweet potato, milk, cream, Bay Fortune seasoning, salt, Tabasco, and 1 cup of the mussel broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer gently for 30 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pot. (While it is simmering, make the spicy butter.) After 30 minutes, check the vegetables for doneness. If they are soft, remove the pot from the heat. If they are still slightly al dente, simmer a few minutes longer or until well done.
PUREE the soup thoroughly in a blender, and strain through a fine mesh strainer. If necessary, adjust the consistency of the soup with the remaining mussel liquid. The soup should be pleasantly thick but not goopy.
RETURN the soup to the pot and heat it, stirring frequently, until it is almost at serving temperature. Add the reserved mussel meat, and heat stirring, for a few minutes until heated through. Serve the chowder immediately with the spicy butter.
SPICY BUTTER SWIRLS
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons molasses 1/2 tablespoon Tabasco
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
PUT the butter, cream, molasses, Tabassco, allspice and cloves in a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring frequenlty. Remove from the heat, and allow the mixutre to cool to room temprature.
LADLE the soup into warm bowls. Drizzle the spicy butter around the surface of the soup. Gently shake each bowl to swirl the butter slightly. You may also pull a toothpick through the butter to create patterns. Use a few of the mussel shells, to garnish the soup, or tuck them between the bowl and its underliner.
WINE: Light to medium bodied off-dry to lightly sweet white wine such as Chenin Blanc or Vouvray.
(Reprinted from Open Kitchen: A Chef's Day at The Inn at Bay Fortune by Michael Smith, published by Callawind Publications, 1998.)
It is important not to overcook the mussels. Steam them for only a few minutes after the shells have opened; the mussels should stay plump and juicy. Let the reserved mussel liquid stand, and some sediment may settle to the bottom of the pot. Carefully pour out the liquid, avoiding the harmless silt. Using a blender is the best way to get a perfectly smooth soup, but a food processor will work almost as well.
To make Bay Fortune seasoning, simply combine equal parts by weight, of whole dried bay laurel leaf, corriander seed, and fennel seed. Grind them together in a spice grinder, and store the powder in an airtight, opaque container, as light will damage the delicate nature of the blend. "Open Kitchen, A Chef's Day at The Inn at Bay Fortune" our book will be for sale, autographed, directly from the Inn in May. If you would like to order a copy please contact us and fill out the required information.