Mussels in White Wine

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My friend Yvonne let me borrow her Barefoot in Paris cookbook. The subtitle is 'Easy French Food You Can Make at Home.' Now this is promising. The recipe for Mussels in White Wine immediately caught my eye, and it was on the table in 20 minutes! I have never cooked mussels, so I was pleasantly surprised when these turned out so good. I can't take any credit for skill, because these are surprisingly easy. These mussels are salty, garlic-y and buttery with unbelievable flavor from the saffron, fresh thyme, tomatoes and white wine. Don't forget a nice crunchy bread to sop up the sauce. This seemed like a great time to post a picture from my last birthday I spent in NYC. My favorite restaurant/bar, Rose in Brooklyn, had a bottomless mussel dinner. (Yes, those are mussel shells we are using as 'goggles.')
Mussels in White Wine
  • 3 pounds cultivated mussels
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped shallots (5 to 7 shallots)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (5 to 6 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup chopped canned plum tomatoes, drained (4 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon good saffron threads
  • 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup good white wine
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

I bought my mussels from Whole Foods, and they are nice and they were already cleaned (and 'debearded'). If you have mussles that need cleaning, put them in a large bowl with 2 quarts of water and the flour and soak for 30 minutes, or until the mussels disgorge any sand. Drain the mussels, then remove the "beard" from each with your fingers. If they're dirty, scrub the mussels with a brush under running water. Discard any mussels whose shells aren't tightly shut.

In a large non-aluminum stockpot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes; then add the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes, or until the shallots are translucent. Add the tomatoes, saffron, parsley, thyme, wine, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil.

Add the mussels, stir well, then cover the pot, and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until all the mussels are opened (discard any that do not open). With the lid on, shake the pot once or twice to be sure the mussels don't burn on the bottom. Pour the mussels and the sauce into a large bowl and serve hot.