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Mussels Steamed in Wine

Mussels Steamed in Wine
Moules marinières, or mussels in white wine, is a common waterfront dish in France from the coast of Normandy to St. Tropez. They are often served with French fries, a combination called moules-frites. Raised on the dish, locals disdain using forks to loosen the mussels from the shells. Instead, they employ a still-hinged pair of shells as both tongs and eating utensil. Be careful to not overcook the mussels, or they will be tough rather than tender and succulent. Recommended wine pairing: Sauvignon Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blend.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lb. mussels
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine or red wine
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Directions:

To clean and debeard the mussels, first scrub the shells with a stiff-bristled brush under cold running water. Using a small knife or scissors, cut off the beard, the fibrous tuft at the edge of the shell.

To make the broth, in a large soup pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. When the butter foams, add the onion and sauté until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mussels, discarding any that fail to close to the touch. Add the wine, thyme and garlic. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook just until the mussels open, 10 to 12 minutes.

Ladle the mussels along with some broth into individual bowls, discarding any mussels that failed to open. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of French Cooking, by Georgeanne Brennan & Sarah Putnam Clegg (Oxmoor House, 2009).