If you want to sing because you have just eaten something delectable – if you want to feel like you are dining in the manner of aristocrats – if you want an absolute slurpy flavor explosion with each little bite of food, then you need to prepare and eat the mussels that I just had for lunch. Seriously. I’m getting really passionate again about my lunch but it’s completely valid.
Mussels are so good and easy to make. The strangest thing is trying to guard their little lives so much from store to home, then confirm that they’re all healthy and thriving, only to quickly extinguish those little lives in a steaming pot. I would be kind of sad about it if they weren’t so extravagantly delicious.
I have been craving mussels and a smattering of left over ingredients from the week came together very quickly to make an absolutely glorious broth that obviously gets me very excited. A pinch of saffron and the addition of a tiny anchovy filet (both pantry staples in my house) added an extra layer of flavor to ingredients that are already outstanding. Imagine this bite: one tender little mussel swimming in a fragrant broth that tastes of wine and lemon and garlic and fresh parsley and summer with a hint of thyme and saffron. I realize that I sound a bit over dramatic sometimes when I talk about some of these things, but when food tastes this good it makes me want write poetry. And love letters. Food love letters, if you will.
We ate these mussels with some toasted slices of french baguette, rubbed with a clove of raw garlic and drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper. If you haven’t eaten bread this way, you are missing out on one of life’s great and simple pleasures.
The recipe below serves two and the entire meal took about twenty minutes to prepare; there really isn’t any excuse for you to not share in this experience with me. I want everyone to experience these little tastes of the good life – together. Let’s start with these mussels.
tender mussels in fragrant wine broth
- a pound and a half of mussels, scrubbed and debearded if necessary
- a cup and a half of white wine
- three cloves of garlic, chopped
- a quarter of an onion or a couple of shallots, chopped
- a generous handful of fresh parsley, chopped
- four or five sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and stems discarded
- half of a lemon (meyer is best)
- one little anchovy fillet
- a pinch of saffron (maybe five or six small threads)
- one tbsp of butter
- extra virgin olive oil
- about one tsp of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- add the saffron to the wine and let soak while you begin cooking
- heat the butter and olive oil in an appropriately sized sauce pan over medium heat, and add the chopped onions, salt and pepper and stir frequently for about two minutes
- add the garlic, anchovy and thyme and cook for a minute or two more, stirring frequently
- add the wine (with saffron) and about two thirds of the fresh parsley and bring to a boil
- gently add the mussels, cover and reduce to medium, cooking for six to seven minutes (all mussels should be open – discard any that do not open)
- ladle the mussels and plenty of the broth into wide bowls and garnish with the rest of the fresh parsley; serve with crusty garlic bread
All mussels should be scrubbed and inspected before cooking; discard any mussels that have cracked or broken shells. If a mussel is open, gently tap it on the shell; if it doesn’t close it should also be discarded.