Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Mussels Oreganata with Formaggi Piave Vecchio, Red Jalapeño and Crispy Leek Threads

     A Tasty Twist On The Classic Oreganata!
     Oreganata is a simple Italian style breadcrumb topping for seafood.  Oreganata is bread crumbs moistened with olive oil that are flavored with salt, black pepper and oregano.  Finely grated Parmigiana Cheese is often added to the Oreganata mixture.  Garlic is not in the original Oreganata recipe, but many chefs add garlic.  Lemon juice usually finishes Oreganata topped seafood as it comes out of the oven or lemon wedges are served on the side along with Oreganata.  The fresh lemon flavor adds a nice touch.  
     Oreganata was originally designed for clams, but this topping can be used on fish, shrimp or just about any shellfish.  Mussels are also a nice item to serve Oreganata style.   
     For today's recipe, the simple Oreganata topping is jazzed up!  Piave Vecchio Cheese is a classic aged grating cheese from Venice, Italy and it has a unique rich flavor that is slightly sweet.  Red Jalapeño is a mildly spicy chile pepper, as long as the seeds are removed.  Red Jalapeño adds an interesting spicy kick.  Crispy Leek Threads are a popular garnish and they add a rich caramelized leek flavor.  

     Oreganata Topping:
     This recipe yields enough for about 6 large Green Mussels.
     Good olive oil makes a difference, so use the best!  
     Step 1:  Place 1/4 cup of plain fine ground Italian bread crumbs in a small mixing bowl.
     Slowly drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the bread crumbs, while stirring with a fork, till the bread crumbs become moistened with olive oil.  (About 2 to 3 teaspoons.  The bread crumbs should glisten, but not look saturated.)
     Step 2:  Season with 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of oregano.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Set the oreganata topping aside.

     Crispy Leek Threads:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Crispy leek thread cook quickly and the entire cooking process only takes about minute.  Because Crispy Leek Threads are so fragile, it is best to cook a little more than what is needed. 
     The entire leek can be used for making leek threads, but the middle and white section are best.     
     Step 1:  Cut a 4" long section of leek.
     Split the leek section in half lengthwise.
     Rinse the leek under cold running water.
     Dry off any excess water.
     Step 2:  Cut the leek section halves lengthwise into very thin julienne strips.  (About 1/32" to 1/16" wide!)
     Step 3:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/2 of the thin leek strips.
     Spread the leek strips evenly in the oil.
     Flip and stir the leek strips with a cake spatula.
     Pan fry the leek threads, till they are crispy golden brown.
     Step 4:  Carefully use the cake spatula to place the fragile crisp leek threads on a dry lint-free pastry towel to drain off any excess oil.
     Step 5:  Repeat Step 3 to fry the second small batch of the leek threads.
     Leave the crispy leek threads on the dry towel undisturbed, till they are needed.

     Celery and Red Jalapeño Relish:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     A small amount of refreshing relish tastes nice with the mussels and it is refreshing for the palate.  The relish also helps to stabilize the mussels on the plate, so the mussels do not slide all over the place! 
     Step 1:  Place 2 tablespoons of small diced peeled celery in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of small diced seeded red jalapeño.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of small diced onion.
     Step 2:  Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of cider vinegar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1 small pinch of ginger powder.
     Step 3:  Stir the ingredients together.
     Set the relish aside to marinate for 15 minutes.

     Mussels Oreganata with Formaggi Piave Vecchio, Red Jalapeño and Crispy Leek Threads:
     This recipe yields 1 appetizer portion.  (5 large green mussels)
     Green Mussels are farm raised, so the size is consistent.  They are usually cleaned, poached and packaged on the half-shell.     
     Step 1:  Place 5 large green mussels on the half shell on a roasting pan.
     Spread a 1/8" thick layer of the Oreganata topping over each mussel.
     Step 2:  Sprinkle 2 pinches of finely grated Piave Vecchio Cheese over the Oreganata topping on each mussel.
     Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of brunoise diced seeded red jalapeño pepper over the Oreganata topping.  (Brunoise = 1/8" dice)
     Step 3:  Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the Oreganata topping is toasted to a light golden color.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Carefully and gently place some of the crispy leek threads on each mussel.
     Step 5:  Place a small mound of the celery and red jalapeño relish on the center of a plate.
     Arrange the finished mussels on the plate in a starfish pattern, with the pointed end of each mussel resting on top of the relish.
     Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

     Viola!  A modern variation of the classic Mussels Oreganata!  

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