I saw half a dozen recipes for mussels and chorizo on the web but they either required white wine or beer, and we were out of both. But we had ginger ale.
For a few seconds, I did entertain the possibility that I’d ruin the lovely fresh mussels that I had just painstakingly de-bearded. But I’m a brave soul when it comes to taking risks with outlandish combination of ingredients. As it turned out, I was overthinking as usual. The mussels and chorizo cooked in ginger ale was stupendous.
Why did I choose Spanish chorizo for this dish? Mussels and chorizo cooked in white wine is a Spanish dish so using Spanish chorizo, the kind packed with paprika and pepper, seemed logical.
One piece of chorizo was enough for a kilo of mussels. I cut the chorizo vertically, split each half into halves then diced. The pieces of sausage went into a pan with hot olive oil. After the chorizo had rendered its own fat, turning the oil in the pan a lovely reddish gold, I threw in a roughly chopped onion.
When the onion had softened, into the pan went a couple of diced tomatoes, a bit of minced garlic and a handful of roughly chopped parsley. Everything was cooked over medium-low heat, with the pan covered, until the vegetables started to liquefy.
Then, a can of ginger ale was poured in. I boiled everything together until the liquid had reduced by about a quarter. I tasted the sauce, decided it needed salt for balance, so I added salt, pinch by pinch, until I got the balance that pleased my taste buds.
The de-bearded mussels went into the pan in one go, the pan was covered and the mussels cooked in the rich liquid for about five minutes—just long enough for the shells to open.
I wasn’t sure whether I should serve the mussels and chorizo in ginger ale as a soup or as a main dish. There was too little liquid for it to be considered a soup; the dish was too light to be a main dish. So, it became an appetizer.
Mussels and Spanish chorizo braised in ginger ale
- Rinse the mussels and drain well.
- Heat the olive oil in a wide pan.
- Over medium heat, cook the chorizo in the hot oil until it has rendered fat and the oil in the pan has colored.
- Add the chopped onion to the chorizo and cook, stirring often, until softened.
- Throw in the tomatoes, garlic and parsley. Stir.
- Set the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and cook the vegetables until they are just started to liquefy.
- Turn up the heat to medium-high. Pour in the ginger ale.
- Allow to reduce by a quarter.
- Taste and add as much as salt as is needed to get a pleasant balance between salty and sweet.
- Pour the mussels into the pan. Stir.
- Cover the pan and let the mussels cook for about five minutes or just until the shells open.
- Serve the mussels and Spanish chorizo braised in ginger ale hot.