During the holidays, it seems like you are always entertaining at your home. More than the cleaning and the preparation, the real challenge is trying to decide what feed your guests. This is something that I always struggle with. I want people to come over, but I don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen the entire time. When I’m having company, my goal is to find a crowd-pleasing dish that doesn’t require a lot of time or monitoring. To complicate things even more, my group of friends have very different food preferences. While we may not agree on many dishes, seafood always seems to be the best compromise for full, happy bellies.
Mussels are a good choice for an entree because they are usually pretty inexpensive, and they will feed a lot of people. I also love preparing mussels because I can make one large pot of mussels in about 20 minutes. Your friends and family will have no idea that mussels require minimal preparation, and they will think that you pulled out all the stops for them!
When selecting mussels from the store, you want to look for shells that are intact and closed. If the shells are open, lightly tap them to see if they will close. If not, don’t purchase them. Another important tip to remember is that you must keep the mussels on top of ice and not submerged in ice or they will die. Once you have your mussels safely home, the fun begins. You can prepare them with wine, beer or a delicious cider. One of the best benefits of cooking mussels is the delicious broth that you are left with once you steam the mussels open. It is an incredibly flavorful broth that is perfect for sipping or dipping a delicious piece of baguette into! Yum….when is dinner?!
Freshly Steamed Mussels in Saffron Broth
- 2 pounds fresh mussels
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 green pepper, finely diced
- 1 red pepper, finely diced
- 1 yellow pepper, finely diced
- 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced and core removed
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon saffron
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 cups white wine
- 1 baguette, sliced at a bias
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh basil, chopped
- Fresh parsley, chopped
- Extra virgin olive oil
- In a large pot, saute onion, fennel, peppers, garlic and saffron in a small amount of olive oil over medium heat until soft and fragrant.
- Increase heat to medium-high and add mussels. Slowly add the white wine and cover with lid for about 4 to 5 minutes or until all mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that have not opened.
- Remove all mussels from pot with a slotted spoon and set aside in a large bowl for serving. Season the broth with salt and pepper to taste. On low heat add butter and stir to ensure everything is well mixed.
- Pour broth over mussels and serve immediately with freshly sliced bread for dipping. Garnish with chopped basil and parsley.