Give me a sunny day, a big bowl of mussels, and a perpetually filled wine glass, and I am the happiest person in the world.
Mussels can seem intimidating for someone who isn't used to cooking with seafood, but they couldn't be easier to make. This recipe combines all the savory sweetness and depth of a tomato-based sauce with the lightness of a white wine sauce. The only addition is concentrated tomato paste (the kind that comes in a tube) and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Anything that begins with simmering shallots and garlic in butter is sure to be foolproof. Try it, you won't be disappointed.
You will need:
- approx. 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
- 6 cloves minced garlic
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
- small pinch dried thyme
- small pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 shallots, diced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 cups dry white wine
- olive oil
- 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
- salt and pepper
First, mince and chop your garlic, shallots and parsley. Debeard the mussels, discarding any that are dead. (Dead mussels won't close after you tap on the shells).
Once your ingredients are prepared, heat up a large pan or dutch oven (either way, make sure your pan has a lid) on medium high heat with a large drizzle of olive oil and the half stick of butter. When the butter starts bubbling and is melted, add the shallots, garlic, and half the parsley. Saute until fragrant and it just starts to brown at the edges. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
Next, clear a little hole in the middle of the pan. Add the tomato paste, stirring around until it's incorporated. Add the white wine. More salt, more pepper. Bring this to a boil. Then add the mussels. Place the lid on top of the pan and let this steam for the next 6 minutes or so.
When 6 minutes has passed, lift the lid to check on the mussels. They should all be open. Give it a good stir. Taste the broth and add more salt if necessary. I find that salting incrementally is helpful because depending on the mussels, the some broths can be more briny than others. Remember to taste before serving! Turn the heat down to low until it's ready to serve.
In the meantime, slice a crusty baguette up on the diagonal. Brush each side with olive oil, and grill quickly on each side until toasty. Use to sop up all of the delicious broth. Add the rest of the parsley right before serving.