Classic French (or Belgian, depending on who you ask) steamed mussels are one of my favorite go-to dishes for a dinner party. They are rich with flavor, packed with protein, and remarkably inexpensive and easy to make. For the best results, remember that freshness is critical here: contact your local fish monger to find out which day of the week (and time of day) they have their mussels delivered and pick up your bounty as soon as you can. One pound of mussels per guest will do. Serve with a baguette or rustic sourdough bread to sop up those delicious juices at the bottom of your bowl.
- 3 pounds fresh mussels
- 1/2 cup minced shallots
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cloves thinly-sliced garlic
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup warm heavy cream
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 1 baguette
- Prep the ingredients. Have everything chopped, minced, measured and ready to go.
- Place the mussels in an ice-filled bowl to the left of the sink and put an empty colander in the sink. Handling one at a time, debeard the mussels and scrub them under cold running water to remove mud and other debris and place them in the colander as you go. Discard any dead mussels. The deceased ones are easy to spot - any mussels that gape open and remain open for more than a minute after you flick the shell with your fingernail should be tossed.
- Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Add the shallots and cook over medium heat for several minutes until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for a minute longer.
- Empty the strained mussels into the pot and immediately pour over the white wine, and add the parsley leaves, bay leaf, lemon juice, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on medium heat until the mussels have opened up, about 6-8 minutes (this step is kind of like making stovetop popcorn; gently shake the pot back and forth several times while the mussels are cooking).
- Remove from heat and add the heavy cream.
- To serve, pile the mussels into individual serving bowls. Tilt the pot towards you and, using a large spoon, skim the cooking liquid, onions, shallots and garlic from the pot and spoon it over the mussels. Continue until there are about two tablespoons of liquid left in the pan; discard this bit of liquid as it will contain residual sand. Garnish the mussels with fresh parsley and serve immediately.
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