As much as I try to plan out what I will be posting, sometimes I find I don’t like to follow my own schedules. I look at my list of ideas and nothing appeals to me. That is when I head to my favorite grocery store, stroll through the aisles, sample some food, and wait for inspiration to strike. This time inspiration came in the form of mussels. I was wandering through the seafood aisle contemplating some possibilities when I spied the mussels. I remembered I had had dinner with a good friend of mine a few weeks ago and she mentioned that she loved eating mussels but had never cooked them herself. I told her I would post a mussels recipe for her. So, thanks to her, I have a deliciously messy recipe to share today. It is messy in the sense that you can eat it with your fingers and use pieces of crusty bread to sop up the white wine sauce. You do not want to miss the wine sauce. Not only is it infused with the sweet briny flavor of the mussels, it also has added flavor from the saffron, shallots, and garlic.
I have to admit I was a little intimidated the first time I cooked mussels. It turns out they are actually very easy to cook. I buy mussels that have already been de-bearded so there is minimal prep work to do. I just rinse the mussels clean, toss them into a stockpot with some white wine and herbs and cook them for 10 minutes. That’s it. Serve it with a loaf of French bread and you have got dinner (or an appetizer if you have to share with hungry teenagers).
- 3 pounds cultivated mussels, de-bearded
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¾ cup chopped shallots
- 1½ tablespoons minced garlic
- ½ cup chopped canned plum tomatoes, drained
- ½ teaspoon good saffron threads
- ⅓ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 cup good white wine
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Crusty bread for serving
- In a large stockpot, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until shallots start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes more. Add the tomatoes, saffron, parsley, thyme, wine, and salt. Bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile rinse the mussels in cold water to remove any sand or debris. When wine mixture comes to a boil, add the mussels, stir well, then cover the pot, and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, until all the mussels are opened (discard any that do not open). During the cooking time, shake the pot once or twice (with the lid on) to prevent burning.
- Pour the mussels and the sauce into a large bowl and serve hot with crusty bread.