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"Much as I love craft beer, PBR is one of those beers that actually tastes like beer," said chef Steve McHugh. "And it's the beer I used to steal from my dad."
McHugh isn't trying to be ironic by adding the now-infamous-hipster drink of choice to his beer can mussels (see the recipe): His San Antonio restaurant, Cured, is housed in the city's iconic Pearl Brewery, which once produced the 170-year-old canned beer.
McHugh spent 12 years working for John Besh, both in New Orleans and Texas. Cured, which opened last year, is his first solo project. The restaurant's name has a double meaning for the chef, who spent a year fighting lymphoma with chemotherapy before getting a clean bill of health in 2011.
"My wife and I came out of that experience and just thought, 'Let's do something for ourselves,'" he said.
That something translates to a charcuterie-heavy menu — and the second meaning of Cured. McHugh breaks down whole animals to make delicious salty things, like smoked vealwurst and smoked duck ham, joking, "I'm always looking for non-pork items."
Pork does make an appearance in the mussels, in the form of house-made tasso. Like the rest of his menu, the mussels are pretty simple, but simply delicious. Green garlic, onion and tomato add brightness, while a finishing hit of butter smoothes out the beer-based sauce.
"Mussels crave that little bit of creaminess," McHugh said. "It's rarely about the seafood — it's more about the sauce."