Chef Teddy Folkman is a veteran of mussel preparation — in fact, you may have seen him school Bobby Flay on Food Network’s “Throwdown” with his moules fromage bleu, a signature dish of D.C. restaurant Granville Moore, where he’s spent more than seven years as executive chef. Here, he shares another take on the dish, specifically designed for his new restaurant, Baroak, which is opening at the Loews Annapolis Hotel.
Folkman’s bleu mussels balance a host of bold flavors — the fattiness of pork belly, the acidity of lemon juice and the aroma of bleu cheese — for a dish that hits the spot year-round. Take your time cooking to “let the ingredients get to know each other,” as Folkman likes to say. After all, he says, “the longer you take to cook something, the bigger the reward.”
Serves 1 as a meal, 2 to 4 as an appetizer
For the mussels:
1 1/4 pounds rope-grown Prince Edward Island mussels
4 tablespoons blended oil (40 percent extra-virgin olive oil, 60 percent canola oil)
1/3 cup uncured cooked pork belly, diced into 3/4-inch-by-3/4-inch pieces (or substitute bacon)
1/3 cup melted leeks (recipe follows, or substitute 1/3 cup caramelized onions)
1/4 cup Hook’s Blue Cheese or similar mild, creamy blue cheese
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup vegetable stock
1/3 cup of baby spinach, cleaned and de-stemmed
2 slices preserved lemon (or substitute 3 tablespoons lemon juice)
Salt, as needed
Black pepper, as needed
1. Rinse mussels in cold water and discard any that are cracked or open. Clean mussels by removing the “beard.”
2. Heat oil in a 12-inch sautee pan over high heat.
3. Add pork belly and cook for 2 minutes until the fat starts rendering off and pork belly is slightly browned.
4. Add melted leeks and mussels and stir until well mixed.
5. Add white wine, vegetable stock and preserved lemon and stir again. Cook for 2 minutes.
6. When mussels start to open, add half of blue cheese, melting it into broth, and cook for 2 minutes.
7. When all mussels are open, toss in the spinach. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.
8. Plate mussels and top them with the rest of the blue cheese. Serve with a crusty French baguette and frites.
For the melted leeks:
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup white wine
1. Melt butter in pan on medium-low heat.
2. Remove tops of leeks.
3. Slice leeks lengthwise and then into 1/4-inch slices.
4. Add sliced leeks to pan, cooking 8 to 10 minutes until soft.
5. Add white wine and reduce 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat when most of the wine has been reduced.