This is a quick and easy recipe using all fresh ingredients! This is a perfect appetizer to accompany your Valentine’s Day meal. You can serve these mussels in the shell or removed from the shells and over a bed of fresh pasta. Make sure you have fresh crusty bread on hand to sop-up the flavorful broth. Please note, when choosing a white wine, do not buy a “cooking wine” from off of the shelf. Do not cook with a wine that you won’t drink. I suggest buying an inexpensive dry wine that you enjoy and cooking with it. This rule applies to white and red wines.
4 lbs mussels debearded and cleaned
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) salted butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion quartered and sliced thinly
5 cloves garlic peeled and sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
3 roma tomatoes chopped
2 fennel bulbs sliced thinly
2 cups good quality dry white wine (i.e. chardonnay)
1 tablespoon salt
If possible, buy mussels fresh, the day in which you plan to use them. If you are unable to do so, remove mussels from plastic bag and place in the back of your refrigerator with a damp paper towel covering them, for one to two days. This will allow the mussels, which are alive, to breathe.
When ready to prepare, place mussels in a bowl and fill with cool water. Allow mussels to sit for 20 minutes to allow them to expel the sand and dirt inside. Begin to debeard and clean mussels. For tips on debearding mussels please visit this site. Any mussels that are opened, do not close when tapped, or chipped, discard (they are not viable/they’re dead). Once mussels are clean place them in another bowl. Do not simply pour cleaned mussels and water into another bowl, for the sand and dirt that was expelled will transfer to clean bowl. You may use a slotted spoon to transfer mussels.
Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add slice garlic, red onion and fennel. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring often. Add tomatoes, thyme, and salt. Cook an additional 5 minutes. Pour in two cups of wine and increase heat to medium high. Add mussels on top of vegetables. Place cover on pot.
Allow mussels to cook covered on medium high for 10 minutes. Remove cover and stir so that vegetables are no longer at the bottom of the pot.
Cook mussels an additional 5-10 minutes. Remove/discard any mussels that are unopened.
Serve mussels w some of the liquid in bowl with crusty bread. Provide guests with a plate/bowl for discarded shells.
If serving mussels over pasta, remove mussels from shells and continue to cook in liquid for an additional 5 minutes. Remove all of thyme stems. Pour mussels w sauce/liquid over cooked pasta.