Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen
Season 3 in High Definition
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Primal Grill is filmed at Esplendor Resort in Rio Rico.
Episode: 301 :: Primal Grill
Mussels on Pine Needles
Method: Direct Grilling
Serves: 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a light entre
Advance
Preparation: 
None
Category: Seafood
Ingredients:
2 pounds fresh mussels (40 to 50 in all) in the shells

Other Items Needed:
About 2 quarts clean, dried pine needles; two 9-by 13-inch aluminum foil pans or one 10-inch skillet with holes or perforations in the bottom and one 10-inch skillet without holes.

Directions:
Scrub the mussels well with a brush under cold running water, discarding any with cracked shells or shells that fail to close when tapped. Pull out and discard any beards (clumps of black strings) on the side of the mussels. (A needle-nose pliers works well for this.) If using foil pan, poke holes in the bottom of one of the pans, using a flat metal skewer or old paring knife. Pierce the foil with the skewer, then twist it to make a inch hole. The holes should be spaced 2 inches apart.

Fill one foil pan or the holed frying pan with pine needles; they should be loosely mounded rather than tightly packed. Arrange the mussels on top.

Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. In the best of all worlds, youd be working over a wood fire. Charcoal would be second best, but you can also do this on a gas grill. There is no need to oil the grill grate.

Place the pan with the mussels on the grill. The pine needles will start to smoke and catch fire in a few minutes. At that point, cover with the solid (no holes) foil pan or frying pan and grill over high heat until the mussel shells open and the bivalves are cooked. This will take 5 to 8 minutes, and if youre working on a gas grill, you may need to help the ignition along with a butane match or lighter.

Transfer the smoking steaming pan with the mussels to a heatproof platter and serve at once. You eat the mussels with your fingers right out of the pan. Bingo moments dont get much better than this.
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