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Mussels cooked on flaming pine needles?

I was wondering if anyone here has ever prepared, or eaten mussels cooked on flaming pine needles?

I saw them prepared that way on TV a while back (can't remember where, but think it was a morning show with a BBQ segment). I have an abundance of pine needles around my Maine home so was considering this preparation, however I find it a bit scary.

I suppose, mussels are inexpensive so if I did ruin a batch, I'd only be out $3 or so.

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  1. Well, Harold McGee has cured salmon with well rinsed pine needles so I suppose you could do it. Although, I wouldn't have thought using them would be "safe."
    Here's a link to that recipe: (scroll down to about the middle of the page...)


    1. Pine smoke really doesn't do much for food. I guess maybe you might get them steamed open by dumping them on a really hot pile of burning hot dry pine needles. To me it sounds like a "last resort" or survival method.

      1. Mussels with Pine Needles!!!! This brings back memories to a beautiful dish I had in Marseille, at this funky little restaurant tucked on a street behind the Radisson hotel. It was an appetizer of mussels cooked with pine needles - and was delish!!!! Yes, there were pine needles in the dish - chopped to about the size of rosemary - the smell was heavenly - and was definitely a match for taste. (i think you can read my post about it somewhere on the france board). Besides the food, the thing I liked most about the restaurant was that the outdoor seating was like a back patio in the middle of a fruit and veggie garden - and the pine needles with my mussels came from the little pine tree by our table. Do try it!

        1. My worry would not be tossing $3 of mussels. Dry pine needles are highly flamable. My worry would be burning down the house

          2 Replies
          1. re: rworange

            Well, that could be an issue, but dried pine needles tend to burn hot and fast and die out rather quickly, and it's only a small quantity, not a whole tree's worth. Besides, this is not a dish one cooks in the house.

            Seems to me there was another thread on this same subject not so long ago, and IIRC, the general concensus among posters was that there wasn't much pine needle flavor imparted into the mussels. In that thread, I wasn't sure whether that opinion was just supposition on the poster's parts, or whether someone had actually tried this recipe.

            Hopefully someone could try it again and get back to us.

            1. re: rworange

              my concern was a wildfire, too.

              pine needles don't really have much of a pine scent if they're dried out on the ground, iirc.

              i can't imagine mincing fresh pine needles to put in a dish. i guess i'd expect it to be over-the-top "piney." and that makes me think of retsina. so....er...not so much....

            2. I saw the same TV segment and was also intrigued. Have not yet tried, though.
              A recipe's available at: http://www.relishmag.com/article/3382...

                1. Just tried the Primal Grill recipe tonight. (But with a too-small bed of coals we made all sorts of ''innovations." ) A nice, smoky, grilled taste came through and they were not dried out. But agree with Bushwickgirl's reading that there was not any pine flavor or scent. (And we were using fairly green needles, dried in the oven.)

                  So next time I will try just putting them on the grill.

                  1. I have another take on this idea -- why not use this as an excuse to buy Clear Creek's doug fir eau de vie? Or is it just me that's been looking for an excuse? Anyhow, seems like it would be a fun thing to splash in to the mussels. http://www.clearcreekdistillery.com/o...

                    1. I've never tried this, but I just wanted to make the general point that pine needles (period, fresh or however dried) do not have that resinous piney scent or flavor that the wood and twigs have. You can make a tea from fresh needles (from white pine at least, I haven't tried other varieties), and it's actually kind of a delicate, subtle flavor, nothing like pine resin. I don't know what flavor the burning needles impart, but if you are hoping for that piney flavor, you are going to be disappointed.

                      1. Sorry it's 4 years after your request, but I hope it will helps or inspire other people...
                        I saw a big batch of mussels being cooked that way for about 30 people or more, and tasted it: Absolutely DE-LI-CIOUS!!!
                        The way to cook was:
                        1 big plank on the ground, 1 layer of mussels all aligned all over the plank, 1 tick layer of pine needles, 1 new layer of mussels, 1 ticker layer of needles.
                        Lit up the fire to this, let it burn (it is quite quick, but the mussels have time to cook well), and carefully brush off the needles ashes.
                        Then taste and enjoy.... MMmmm! :)