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Flexing My Mussels - Cataplana

I had some great mussels in a recent edition, and was still hankering for more. I found this Food & Wine recipe and it definitely fit the bill. I can always gauge the success of the dish by the amount my daughter (or other guest) wants to take home. When she left the next day, I think I had 3 or 4 mussels left in a bowl. That makes me happy.

The word Cataplana comes from the Portuguese crock in which this dish was served.

*I could not find Linguica sausage in time, so I substituted Italian sausage (though chorizo or Andouille would be better, I think).

**A lot of people don’t have saffron in their spice cabinets, but I always do. It’s expensive because it’s the hand-harvested stigma of the crocus flower. But don’t let that scare you - you only use a very little, and it adds a lot of very distinct flavor. You can either chop it very fine, or soak it in a little hot water for a few minutes (blooming) before you add it to your dish.

If you like octopus, you can substitute half the mussels for it. Lauren was not a fan.


¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces linguiça*, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 large yellow onion (about 1 pound), cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced lengthwise (about 3 cups)

2 medium-sized fresh Cubanelle chiles, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced crosswise (about 1 1/2 cups)

4 large garlic cloves, sliced

½ cup dry white wine

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved

2 cups clam juice

2 bay leaves

1 ½ teaspoons paprika

½ teaspoon saffron threads, crushed or bloomed**

2 cups packed chopped kale

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

8 littleneck clams (about 9 ounces), scrubbed

8 ounces peeled and deveined tail-on raw large shrimp (about 12 shrimp)

16 mussels (about 8ounces), scrubbed and debearded

Portuguese rolls, warmed, optional


Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add linguiça; cook, stirring often, until fat just starts to render, about 3 minutes.

Add onion, chiles, and garlic; cook, stirring often, until vegetables are just softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add wine to mixture in Dutch oven; cook, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of Dutch oven, until nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and juices, clam juice, bay leaves, paprika, and saffron. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 15 minutes.

Stir kale, salt, and black pepper into stew. Nestle clams, shrimp, squid, and mussels into stew. Cover and increase heat to medium-high; cook until mussels and clams open and shrimp (and optional squid) are just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Discard any closed clams or mussels. Serve with warm rolls.

I’d like to tell you that we had a beautiful Carmeniere or Rose’ with this dish, but the truth is we were celebrating being together with a vodka martini and blue cheese-stuffed olives.

Enjoy the dish and celebrate any way you wish. I always celebrate my kids.

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