04 March 2011

Mussels in white wine sauce

My idea of comfort food in winter is beer, frites and mussels at Hopleaf. But it is a bit of a hike from Bucktown to Uptown so here is my attempt to recreate mussels in wine sauce. Surprisingly quick and delicious!

Serves 2 main courses
2 lbs of mussels, I got them at whole foods
1 cup dry white wine or vermouth, I used the latter
1/2 cup chicken broth (or fish broth, if you have it on hand)
1/2 cup red onion, chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup cream
3 tbsp chopped parsely
1/2 tsp dried thyme

First, if you are not using the mussels on the day of purchase - store them in a bowl over a bag of ice. Cover it with a damp cloth and place it on the bottom most shelf of the fridge where its the coolest. Be careful to not store mussels in a closed plastic bag because they need to be able to breathe. The damp cloth keeps them moist against the dryness of the fridge. They will keep for 24 hours.

When ready to cook, clean the mussels. Look for ones that are open. Tap lightly on the shell, healthy ones will close their shells, sometime pretty slowly. Those that don't close, take a quick sniff - if it smells like bad fish then discard. Few mussels will have a weedy thready thingy called a beard sticking out their side. Yank it sharply to remove. It's pretty harmless so don't obsess over getting each strand out. Run the mussels under cold water but be careful not to let stand submerged in water.
  1.  Add butter and oil to a hot pot over medium heat. When the butter melts add onion and garlic. Cook until translucent.
  2.  Add vermouth, broth, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Simmer it for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add mussels, stir and cover. Let cook for 4 mins.
  4. Add chopped parsley and cover to cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add cream, stir and turn off the heat. All the mussels should be open at this point. Discard ones that are still closed.
  6. Enjoy with crusty french peasant bread!

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