A slightly spicy version of mussels saganaki, slowly cooked to perfection, in a clay baking tray in the indirect wood-fired oven. We’ll take a classic, traditional appetizer to a whole new dimension. It’s the best appetizer to serve with “tsipouro” or wine, especially if you make it slightly spicy as we suggest. It tastes better if you use fresh mussel meat in combination with whole mussels (closed or slightly open). Let’s see step-by-step how to make mussels saganaki in the indirect wood-fired oven or in your electric oven.
Rinse the mussels thoroughly, pull and remove “the beard”. Finely chop the onion and the garlic cloves. Coarsely chop the parsley, and gather all your ingredients on your work surface. In a clay baking tray, spread the chopped onion and the garlic in one layer. Place the mussel meat on top. If you also use whole mussels, discard half of each shell, and add these mussels on their half shell. Blend the diced tomatoes with a blender, along with a little wine and the tomato paste. Pour the mixture over the mussels. Then, pour white wine over them. Sprinkle half of the parsley on top, and add a little water. The clay baking tray should be filled at least halfway with liquid. Now, it’s time to place the mussels in the wood-fired oven. The goat cheese should be added 15 minutes before the mussels are done.
Before preparing the mussels, you should preheat the indirect wood-fired oven. In the oven’s lower chamber, add kindling (alcohol-soaked cotton) and thin, dry hardwood. When lighting the traditional or indirect wood-fired oven, make sure that you always use dry wood, since it produces a strong flame. Close the chamber’s door, and prepare your ingredients according to the instructions given above.
When the temperature reaches 200⁰C (392⁰F) and the fire has burnt down to embers, the indirect wood-fired oven is hot enough. It’s time to place the clay baking tray with the mussels in the oven. Close the oven’s door and your food will be slowly cooked as the temperature decreases slowly. Cook for 45 minutes approximately. At this stage, add the goat cheese grated on top of the mussels and cook for extra 15 minutes. Mussels need 1 hour cooking time in the indirect wood-fired oven, whereas they need 45 minutes in the electric oven (turned to 180⁰C/356⁰F).
When there is only oil and sauce left inside the clay baking tray, remove the mussels from the oven. Wait for a few minutes, until they cool down. Use the remaining parsley as a garnish and serve. Accompany this dish with fine wine or “tsipouro”. Enjoy this appetizer with your friends.
Happy cooking everyone!