Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fettuccine with Mussels in Saffron Sherry Crème

     An Elegant Tasting Pasta! 
     I used to cook today's pasta recipe at yacht clubs and French cafés back in the 1990's.  Customers liked rich tasting cream sauce pastas back in those days.  Saffron and mussels are a classic flavor combination.  Sherry cream sauces go well with shellfish and saffron.  Put it all together and a crowd pleasing elegant rich flavor is created.

     In the 1980's and 1990's it seemed like every Florida restaurant offered a special du jour that had the word seafood in the name.  Seafood Pasta was usually made with a combination of shellfish and fish.  The problem was that most chefs used the pasta special to liquidate fish scraps or seafood that was getting old.  Many chefs even added cheap imitation crab meat (surimi) to the recipe in order to increase profits.
     Eventually the popularity of Seafood Pastas burnt out, because there were far more lousy Seafood Pastas being sold than good ones.  The same can be said about Seafood Quiche, Seafood Chowder, Seafood Lasagna, Seafood Pastries or any other nondescript recipe that had the word seafood in the menu title.
     On the other hand, if one specific seafood item was featured in a special du jour pasta recipe, the creation sold well.  This is because customers looked upon such a pasta creation as if it was designed from the ground up.  Fettuccine with Mussels in Saffron Sherry Crème was one of my favorite recipes for liquidating an overstock of fresh Blue Mussels.
     Fettuccine with Mussels in Saffron Sherry Crème:
     This recipe yields 1 petite pasta portion.
     The simple 1990's style cream reduction sauce can be made in the time that it takes to cook the dried pasta.  (About 10 minutes.)
     Cream reduction sauces are easy to make.  Many chefs relied on cream reduction sauces in the 1990's because of the convenience.  The problem with cream reduction sauces is the fat content is very high, so the portion size should be reduced.  Classic cuisine chefs prefer to make today's sauce with béchamel, because the sauce will be a little lighter and much more cost effective.   
     Step 1:  Start cooking 1 small portion of dried fettuccine pasta in boiling water over high heat.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. 
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Sauté till the shallots turn clear.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 cup of shrimp stock.
     Add 1 pinch of Crocus sativa Saffron.  (Crocus sativa is the pricy strong tasting Saffron!  Rub the Saffron between your fingers to crumble it, so it will release more flavor.)
     Add 3 ounces of Dry Sherry.
     Add 3/4 cup of cream.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 4:  Bring the cream to a gentle boil.
     Add 8 to 10 cleaned fresh Blue Mussels.
     Step 5:  Return the liquid to a boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer till the mussels open.
     Step 6:  Remove the mussels from the sauce.
     Remove the shells from all but 2 of the mussels.  (The two mussels in the shell will be used as a garnish.)
     Step 7:  Return the shelled mussels and the 2 whole mussels to the sauce.
     Simmer and reduce the cream sauce, till it becomes a medium thin sauce consistency that can lightly coat a spoon.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Step 8:  *By now the fettuccine pasta should be cooked al dente. 
     Drain the water off of the pasta.
     Add the pasta to the sauce.  
     Toss the pasta with the sauce.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 9:  Set the 2 whole mussels in the shell aside.
     Use a long tine carving fork to mound the pasta on a plate.
     Pour any extra sauce over the pasta.
     Place the 2 whole mussels on top of the pasta.
     A simple, elegant, rich tasting petite pasta!

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