Mussels, Bacon and Apples Baked in Parchment

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Mussels, Bacon and Apples Baked in Parchment

When I entertain I often try to strike a balance between easy to bring to the table and spectacular enough to illicit a few oohs and maybe even some awes. If I can squeeze healthful onto the menu too– all the better. Poorly planned dinner parties can be stressful. So I like to choose recipes I can pull off with simplicity but still have an element of tantalizing showmanship. This recipe for oven steamed Mussels, Bacon and Apples hits all three marks perfectly.

It’s all in the packaging– the parchment packaging.

Mussels, Bacon and Apples Baked in Parchment is just one example of what French chef’s call en papillote, or wrapped in parchment paper. When it come to dramatic presentations, en papillotte is one of the best. The packets come to the the table looking pretty, so the guests are already impressed and very likely intrigued by the secret wrapped inside. Once the package arrives at the table it can be dramatically opened– releasing aromatic steam. When the steam clears guests get a tantalizing first peek at the perfectly seasoned surprise inside.

Sure this is a showy technique that’s great for dinner parties, but the best part is how easily recipes cooked en papillotte are to prepare for any occasion. There are no special tools. Parchment paper is available at the grocery store. While you’re there pick up simple falvorful foods, like poultry, fish or shellfish, as well as fresh veggies or even certain fruits. En papillotte lends itself well to low-fat foods, which is why this method also means that my guests are enjoying something healthful.

The secret to cooking food this way is the steam. The parchment traps moisture, then melds the flavors in a magical way. Making these Mussels, Bacon and Apples Baked in Parchment’s sum greater than its parts.

Wine Pairing

Domaine de Ménard Côtes de Gascogne Cuvée Marine 2013

Domaine de Ménard Côtes de Gascogne Cuvée Marine
I’ve been asked to sample the wines of Gascony. Tuscany? No Gascony, or Gascogne in Southwestern France. Starting with Domaine de Ménard Côtes de Gascogne Cuvée Marine Like France’s better known viticultural regions, wine has been produced in Gascogne for hundreds, er, thousands of years. But I only knew of Gascogne’s wine production as the basis […]
Ken Eskenazi

Price $9

Pairs well with seafood, shellfish and an aperitif

Which brings me to the wine. Mussels, Bacon and Apples are all very adaptive to quite a few wine choices. However, we decided to look past the expected California varietals. Simply prepared shellfish also pairs well with some of our favorite French appellations like: Chablis, Sancerre, or even Champagne.

Instead Ken went further afield for this pairing. He chose Côtes de Gascogne.

Gascogne (or Gascony) is a region of southwest France famed for its douceur de vivre (sweetness of life) which includes a love of food. It’s home to foie gras and Armagnac, as well as a flaky apple tart known as Pastis Gascon. Côtes de Gascogne specializes in regional French varietals such as: Colombard, Gros Manseng, Sauvignon Blanc, and Ugni Blanc. These white wines offer aromatic notes of citrus, with hints of exotic fruits. They’re typically dry, crisp, and refreshing. Making them very food friendly.

Mussels, Bacon and Apples en Papillotte

Ken chose to begin our introduction to Gascogne with Domaine de Ménard Côtes de Gascogne Cuvée Marine 2013. It was a spectacular choice with the mussels. It’s an easily approachable wine, making it a terrific dinner party choice too. I love its cool minerality and its hint of citrus. Still, it has a fuller mouth feel than many of the wines we tasted from this region. To match that slight fattiness I added a couple of tablespoons of butter to the mussels. I also chose to honor the apples in the famed Pastis Gascon by adding them to the papillote as well. The subtle apple-sweetness is beautiful against the wine. GREG

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Mussels Baked in Parchment with Apples and Bacon

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Inspired by Lark restaurant in Seattle, WAPublished
Mussels, Bacon and Apples Baked in Parchment

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pound Mussels (well scrubbed, beards removed )30
  • 3 slice thick cut bacon (cut crosswise into ⅓-inch pieces)
  • 2 shallots (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 1 ounce dry white wine
  • 2 ounce apple cider vinegar
  • 1 granny Smith apple (cored, peeled and small diced)
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter (cut into ½-inch chunks)
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • crusty bread (for serving)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut a sheet of parchment paper to measure approximately 15 by 30 inches. Fold in half crosswise creating a 15-inch square, and crease. Lay the parchment square centered on a rimmed baking sheet. The creased seam should be on the left side. Open the parchment like a book and center the pile of clean mussels onto the back “page” of that book. Leave at least 3 inches of space on the 3 uncreased sides of the parchment. Set aside.

Cook bacon over a medium heat until just beginning to crisp; about 10 minutes. Add the shallots and continue to cook until they begin to color, about 4 minutes more. Deglaze with white wine and apple cider vinegar. Turn the heat off and stir in the apples; stir to coat. Scrape the apple and bacon mixture on top of the mussels on parchment. Tuck the pieces of butter among the mussels and lay the thyme sprig on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Close the “book” and seal the parchment by rolling and pleating the three open sides to seal the edges and create a packet. The recipe can be preapred to this point several hours in advance and then popped into the oven just before serving.

Bake packet of mussels in heated oven 20 minutes; most of mussels should be open, but discard any that remain closed. Serve immediately by placing sealed packet into a wide shallow bowl to catch the juices, then open packet at the table. Serve with crusty bread.