The simple spin on the French preparation for mussels is delicious and quick. The plump, juicy mussels are enhanced by the earthy-sweet taste of the leeks and the distinctive fresh taste of the fennel. Sever with a good, warm fresh baguette and you’ve got a perfect meal.
1 ½ tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium leeks, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed well
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 ½ lbs fresh mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 ½ cups dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian parsley)
1. In a stockpot or large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter in the olive oil until the butter is melted and the fats are sizzling. Add the leeks, fennel, garlic, and thyme and cook until the vegetables are translucent and soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
2. Add the mussels to the pot, discarding any that do not close to the touch, and toss with the vegetable mixture.
3. Pour in the wine and season generously with salt and pepper. Cover and steam for about 8 minutes, shaking the covered pot once or twice. Uncover the pot and peek; if some of the mussels have not opened yet, give them about 2 minutes more.
4. Divide the mussels between 3 large plates or individual shallow bowls, discarding any that have failed to open. Garnish with the parsley and serve immediately.
Recipe from Small Gatherings by Jessica Strand (Egg & Dart Press, May 2013)
Image by Sheri Giblin.