Rice, potatoes and salty mussels are layered in this traditional one-pot dish, and a good sprinkling of pecorino gives a sharp taste and golden topping.
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or minced
- 3 tbsp white wine
- 700 g (1 lb 9 oz) fresh mussels, cleaned and debearded
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) potatoes, peeled and cut into 4–5 mm thick slices
- 1 small white onion, thinly sliced
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) ripe cherry tomatoes (or other small tomatoes), quartered
- 3 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 300 g (10½ oz) short-grain rice
- 50 g (1¾ oz) grated aged pecorino
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time: 30 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF).
- Place a large frying pan with a lid over medium–high heat. Add the garlic, wine and mussels in a single layer, then cover and cook for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan every 30 seconds or so. Remove the open shells and set aside. Replace the lid and cook the remaining mussels for another 30 seconds, then check again for open shells and remove those that have opened. Repeat a few more times, then discard any unopened shells after 5 minutes.
- Strain the liquid left in the pan and reserve. Using a small sharp knife, separate the mussel meat from the open shells at the base of the stalk.
- Drizzle the olive oil over the base of a 24 cm (9½ in) round baking dish (ideally terracotta) and top with one-third of the potato slices. Next add half the onion, half the tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of parsley, a pinch of salt and some pepper, half the rice, then half the mussels, making sure the opening of the mussel flesh is facing up. Then add half the remaining potatoes and repeat the layers described above, finishing with a final layer of potato. Pour the reserved mussel liquid into the dish, along with enough hot water to bring the liquid just below the top layer of potatoes. Scatter on the pecorino, then cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
- Check the potatoes are cooked through. If they are still firm, bake for another 5–10 minutes, then check again. When they are ready, remove the foil and bake for 5–10 minutes until the top is golden. Rest for at least 30 minutes, then scatter over the remaining parsley and serve.
Recipe and images from Adriatico by Paola Bacchia, Smith Street Books, RRP $55.00