I love cooking shellfish like clams and mussels at home, for some reason it blows peoples MINDS. Steamed mussels are one of those dishes that people seem to reserve for ordering at restaurants, when in truth it’s got to be one of the easiest meals out there. Throw some aromatics and liquid in a pot, bring it to a simmer, throw the mussels in for a few minutes and there you are! All you need is a great, crusty baguette for sopping up all of those juices and dinner is served.
We recently spent a few days in the absolutely perfect Normandy port town of Honfleur, and I ate mussels at every meal. Aka, I ate mussels any time that I was not otherwise occupied by shoveling cheese into my face. Normandy-style mussels are cooked in a very simple broth, much like the one here, and are then topped with a heaping spoonful of creme fraiche. It melts into the mussels, and down into the broth, creating the creamiest most delicious mussel broth. I recommend giving it a shot. Or, to make a more traditional creamy mussel broth, remove the mussels from the pot after they’ve opened, pour in 2/3 cup heavy cream, and simmer until thickened.
There are so many ways to make mussels shine, I have a recipe for Thai Curry Mussels in my upcoming cookbook, Just Married, that is made spicy from red curry paste and creamy from coconut milk. Below is one of the purest, simplest renditions of steamed mussels - perfect for a cozy evening at home.
Garlic & White Wine Steamed Mussels
2 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, finely minced
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
3/4 cup dry white wine
4 pounds mussels, debearded and scrubbed
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook until softened, but not brown.
Pour wine into the pot and bring to a simmer. Add mussels and close lid for 5 to 7 minutes, giving the pot a good shake every couple of minutes.
Ladle mussels and broth into bowls and serve with toasted bread.
Do Your Thing: Stir in a tablespoon or two of grainy mustard with the wine. Forego wine in place of an ale. Stir in heavy cream or coconut milk after removing the mussels and cook for several more minutes to create a creamy, hearty broth. Add minced jalapeño along with the shallot and garlic to spice things up a bit. Use clams instead of mussels!