Ingredients for Aioli
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoons pimenton (smoked paprika)
- Kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups peanut or other neutral-flavored oil
Ingredients for Mussels
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 6 to 8 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 3 pounds mussels, debearded and rinsed
- 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves coarsely chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 bottle dry white wine
- 1 baguette, cut into 1-inch slices on the bias
- 3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the bias
DIrections for Aioli
Put the egg yolks, garlic, vinegar, pimentón, and a sprinkle of salt in a food processor and puree until the mixture is homogeneous. Then, with the machine running, VERY slowly drizzle in some of the oil until the mixture is thick and smooth. When it starts to look like mayonnaise, the rest of the oil can be added in a thin, slow stream; season with salt. You want relatively thin aïoli here. If it's too thick, add a few drops of water to thin it; or on the flip side, if it's too thin, add more oil. TASTE for seasoning, adjust if needed, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Directions for Mussels
1. Coat the bottom of a large pot (big enough to hold all the mussels) with olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper and bring to medium-high heat; cook until the garlic is golden and very aromatic, 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Add the mussels, oregano, and bay leaves and stir to coat with the oil; add the wine and cover the pot. Steam the mussels for 5 to 6 minutes; if not all the shells are open, continue to cook them all a little longer. While the mussels are steaming, grill the bread.
3. Serve the mussels in bowls with lots of juice from the pot (as much as you like!). Generously drizzle each bowl with the aïoli, garnish with the scallions, and serve the toasted bread alongside.
When it comes to cooking shellfish, the ones that don’t open are the freshest – continue to cook them until they give it up!
When you buy mussels, or any shellfish for that matter, make sure you buy them in mesh bags-remember, these guys are alive and they need to breathe! They also need to stay cold, so don't be afraid to ask your fishmonger for a bag of ice to toss in your shopping bag. Scrub the mussels well and refrigerate them until you're ready to cook (but do not put them in a bowl of water!). If any shells are cracked or broken, toss them. The rule is: When in doubt, throw 'em out.