This was my dad’s favorite seafood dish of all time. He loved it whenever I’d make my Mussels In A Garlic-Tomato Broth. We shared so many good times and great meals together. I miss you every day.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 47 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 7 minutes
Yields: 2 servings (1 1/2 pounds per person)
Equipment: large stockpot, 1 (6-quart) saucepot with a tight-fitting lid, spider, chef’s knife
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
3 pounds of mussels, cleaned
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter, unsalted
1 sweet onion, diced
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
1 (14.5-ounce) can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes and their juice
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of Pernod,
1 bottle plus 1 cup of Chardonnay
1 quart of chicken stock, unsalted
1 tablespoon of Pernod
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons of fresh basil leaves, Julienned
Directions For Prepping Mussels:
I bought six 2-pound bags of PEI (Prince Edward Island) mussels at my local seafood store. Yes, that’s a lot of mussels but, after going through all of them, you may find some that are open and/or cracked. Discard those because they’re no longer alive and no good.
If you come across those that may be slightly open, you can do a quick test by giving them a good thump with your fingers, if they don’t close, get rid of them. They’re dead and no good. Then you may find some with a chipped shell from the shipping process. Get rid of them.
Next, when you’re scrubbing the outside shells, removing debris, and whatnot, you want to remove the *beard from each mussel. Look, everything that’s worthwhile means doing the work. Great seafood recipes are no different.
We start by getting to the seafood shop as soon as it opens, about 7 am. All six 2-pound bags are packed on ice for the ride home. Then it becomes a family project. Due to the way the mussels are packaged you really don’t know how many of them may be damaged, from shipping, or just might be dead. It’s important to take this into consideration.
Note: During the cleaning of the mussels, they must remain as cold as possible. Once they’ve been cleaned, immediately return them to an ice-filled container.
Steve has two chairs set up outside with a couple of brushes, ice, and two buckets of water for cleaning and rinsing the mussels. He doesn’t mind doing the work because he knows about the payoff. It takes the two of us about 45 minutes to clean, remove all the beards, and discard any dead ones. When all is said and done, the 12 pounds of mussels, I bought, end up being a good 10 pounds of perfection. Keep in mind, we’re talking about 95% “shell weight” here!
Next, I fill up my sink with water adding in a couple of tablespoons of flour. Using my hands, I swish the flour around until the water becomes cloudy. I add all the cleaned mussels into the water-filled sink. Mussels act like a filter and will drink the flour/water mixture and spit the water back out, along with any sand they may have inside their shells. This process only takes a couple of minutes. Then, I drain the water from the sink and spray the mussels down with clean water. I’ve divided the mussels into four large Tupperware containers each containing approx. 3 pounds of mussels. Top each container with ice then transfer the containers to the refrigerator. It’s time to start on my broth for the mussels.
Directions For the Sauce:
In a large saucepot over medium-high heat add olive oil, butter, and red pepper flakes. Once the butter melts add the diced onions, stirring frequently, cook until soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Next, add the thinly sliced fennel, minced garlic, Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and 1 cup of Chardonnay, stir to combine. Cook for another 5 minutes, allowing the wine to reduce. Add the diced Roma tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes with juice, Pernod, and chicken stock. Reduce the heat to medium, simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 30 minutes, place a lid on the pot transfer to the back burner, set temperature to warm, or your lowest setting. Immediately before ladling the sauce over the mussels add the chopped basil and Italian flat-leaf parsley stir to combine.
Take one of the containers of mussels out of the refrigerator, discarding the ice. Tranfer to a large pot while preheating the large stockpot.
In an empty large stockpot with the lid on, heating up over medium-high heat, add the mussels into the large stockpot. Immediately pour the whole bottle of Chardonnay right over the top and quickly replace the lid. After about 3 minutes, open the lid, give them a big stir using a spider, to see how they’re coming along. You want all the mussels to have opened before removing them from the pot. For 3 pounds it takes anywhere from 5 to 7 minutes. Times may vary slightly. Immediately remove the cooked mussels from the stockpot using the spider. Transfer to a large Tupperware container.
Fill two serving bowls up high with mussels. Ladle a good helping of the hot garlic-tomato broth over the top. Oh yeah, don’t forget to serve some crusty bread for dipping too! There you have it, my Mussels In A Garlic-Tomato Broth.