Easy flaming mussels in a sambucca cream sauce...all done on the BBQ!

grilled bread goes great with these mussels!

This is an easy recipe that is both lots of fun, amd can be prepared start to finish in about 20 minutes.It has the drama of an outside flambé to entertain your family and friends, and everyone will love digging in to these really delicious mussels.

This can all be done out side on the BBQ, and once you have all your ingredients ready to go outside; you'll be eating within 10 minutes

Flambéing is easy and quite safe. Just make sure you pour the alcohol into the pan away from the grill (take the pan off the heat and away from the flame as you pour in the liquor) and make sure you keep your face back from the pan as it ignites. Thousands of chefs are doing thousands of flambés every day (they all think it's really fun too) and burns are extraordinarily rare.

You can use any anise flavored liquor if you don't have sambucca. Pernod, pastis, ouzo or Ricard will all work equally well.

BBQ sambucca mussels (serves four as a starter or add a big salad, some corn on the cob and lots of crusty grilled bread for a complete BBQ meal for four.)

2 lbs mussels

One big fresh tomato, or two medium sized; all chopped

One half onion

1 clove of garlic minced

1oz sambucca liquor

3/4 cup of heavy cream

3/4 cup of water

Olive oil

A small handful of torn fresh basil leaves. (If you don't have any fresh basil then don't worry about it, don't use dried basil.)

Salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Preheat your BBQ to medium high.

Rinse off all the mussels well. Mussels used to have a lot of grit on them, but today's farmed mussels are pretty clean. Spend a couple of minutes running water over and through them and you'll be fine.

Chop the onion, tomato and garlic and wash the basil. You can use little bowls to transport them, but I usually just leave them in little piles on the cutting board and take it outside.

Measure out the cream, liquor and water, and put them in little bowls or glasses to take outside.

Get a good heavy skillet, that has a lid, or you have some kind of lid that will fit on it, and take the whole lot outside.

OK so now you are outside, make sure you have your tomatoes, onions and garlic all chopped. Your olive oil, sambucca, water and cream. Your fresh basil and some salt and pepper. Oh...and your mussels too.

You also want a big serving bowl ready so you can start eating these straight off the grill while outside.

Put you frying pan onto the grill, and let it heat for a minute. Add a couple Tbls of olive oil, and then add your onions. After about five minutes of occasional shaking, add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Immediately add all the tomatoes, and cook for a minute or so.

Take the pan off the grill (Be careful, the handle may be hot; use a dish towel) and add the sambucca. Keep your face away from the pan, and transfer back to the grill. Give the pan a little shake, and the sambucca fumes will ignite. Let the flames burn off shaking the pan a couple of times.

Add all your mussels, the cream and the water, and cover the pan. Let the mussels steam for about 4-6 minutes. You'll know they're done when they are all big and open. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to your serving bowl and return the liquid to the heat. (discard any mussels that did not open)

You want the liquid to have the consistency of the heavy cream that you used. It may already be there, but often can use a minute or two of evaporative boiling to get to the right consistancy, you're not looking for alfredo sauce thick, sort of like, light cream soup thick.

When it's right, add the torn basil leaves, and taste for salt. The mussels will have released some salty briny liquor, so you won't need to add much salt, just add a pinch or two if you think it needs it. Also add a few turns of freshly cracked pepper.

Pour the liquid over the mussels in the waiting serving bowl, and you're done!

This recipe screams out for a good grilled crusty bread to mop of the delicious sauce. Choose a white bread with some character, rub a little olive oil on it, and grill to toast while your mussels are cooking. It's OK if the bread is a little bit stale.

This recipe tastes great, and is a lot of fun to prepare at a backyard BBQ party. It's not stressful and you can enjoy the time with your friends or family, while still preparing something surprising and delicious.

Flambéing is always a show stopper, and you'll really enjoy it once you try it.

how to flambe

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