But this mussel dish is our best, because it has a deeper meaning to Carolyn and I. When we first starting cooking together over twenty years ago, this was one of the first dishes we made for each other and then for friends. Mussels meuniere became a starting point for a lifetime of cooking together (along with our Christmas parties, but more on those adventures later). Our repertoire has grown over the years and we make much more complicated dishes, but mussels meuniere is still something we make on special occasions. It is a simple dish, but for us it represents something more, something wonderful. You may have a dish like this. I hope you have a dish like this. If not, there is always time.
Mussels meuniere is a classic dish with many variations. But it is basically mussels steamed in dry white wine. We prefer a white wine with less (or no) oak- this allows the mussel flavor to come through. Oaky wines make for oaky mussels. The only other variables are the aromatics you can use. We go very basic, using only shallots, thyme, salt and pepper. You can add garlic, bay leaf or other seasonings to fit your taste. Also, it is good to have some crusty bread to soak up the broth (this may be the best part).
This week, when Valentines Day came around we shared gifts and had dinner with the kids. I made Carolyn our mussels meuniere. We enjoyed the mussels, shared a glass of wine and caught-up with the boys. It was a good, quiet night together.
(serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as an appetizer)
Notes Before You Start:
- Store mussels in the coldest part of the fridge. If you are worried about keeping them chilled, store the mussels over a bowl of ice in the fridge.
- Mussels are usually farmed these days and are less “sandy” than in the past. But the mussels should still be rinsed, cleaned and de-bearded. Discard any cracked mussels.
- After cooking, if any mussels are not opened, discard them.
What You Get: A quick, easy (and affordable) seafood dish that works as an appetizer or as a main course. This can be a “gluten-free” dish if you omit the bread.
What you need: No special equipment needed.
How Long? 20-30 minutes. This is a dish you can make at any time.
- 2 pounds of live mussels, rinsed, cleaned and debearded. Probably 24-36 mussels, depending on their size.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon of pepper
- 1 cup of dry white wine
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
- ½ lemon
- 1 loaf of crusty bread for dipping (optional, but not really)
- Place a large pot (with a lid) on the stove over medium heat. Once heated, add the olive oil.
- Once the oil is hot, place shallots, salt and pepper in the pot and allow to soften, about 2-3 minutes. You do not want the shallots to brown, stir frequently.
- Add wine and thyme to pot, bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to low and bring liquid to a simmer.
- Add mussels to pot, stir and cover. Allow mussels to cook for 4-6 minutes. Check to see if mussels have opened. Once most of the mussels open, remove pot from heat and keep covered for one minute.
- Remove lid, add parsley and squeeze the lemon juice onto mussels. Discard any mussels that do not open.
- Stir mussels and serve. We serve the mussels and broth together in wide bowls (for easy bread dipping).