Steamed Mussels in White Wine Garlic Broth
I love serving a large steaming batch of mussels and placing them in the middle of the table so that people can just dig in. Of course it is pretty much mandatory that mussels be served with plenty of bread for soaking up the extra sauce. And the sauce used for this recipe is perfect for dipping, similar to a scampi sauce – with a garlic and white wine base and butter added for extra richness just before serving. (And don’t forget to put out bowls for discarded shells!)
When serving mussels as an entree, I adhere to the general rule of about ¾ pound to 1 pound of mussels per person and of course the amount also depends on the size of the appetites of your dinner guests. There are about 20 to 25 PEI (Prince Edward Island) mussels in each pound and 14 to 18 per pound for Mediterranean mussels.
To clean the mussels, start by rinsing them well under cool water. Scrub them as needed to remove any remaining debris on the shells. Make sure that all the mussels are debearded, meaning that the hair-like fibers that grow on the mussel are removed from the shell. While many commercial mussels come debearded already, it doesn’t hurt to check them over once more. To do this, grab the beard with your fingers and pull it towards the hinge of the mussel shell or use a knife to gently scrape it away. Mussels are sold live as they spoil quickly once they die. Discard any mussels that have broken shells or do not open after cooking, as they are already dead.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup white wine
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Lemon wedges, for garnishing
Heat a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the shallot and sauté until soft and tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 30 seconds. Add the wine and vinegar and bring to a simmer and stir in the butter. Arrange the mussels in the pot and cover to let the mussels steam, gently shaking the pot once or twice, until all the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open.
Arrange the mussels in a large serving bowl then pour the sauce over the top. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges. Serve with bread on the side.
Top photo credit: Kate Edwards.