When cooking mussels in white wine sauce I do like to add a little chicken broth, I confess. I find it adds another layer of flavor. However it is not what you will find in traditional mussel recipes: usually it is wine or broth not both. Oh well. This very easy recipe is also quite good with the use of champagne, and it sounds nicer, doesn’t it? Just avoid anything expensive. Another break from the norm is adding a handful of greens to the sauce. This makes it even more important that the mussels are super clean, so that you can sop up the sauce and greens without getting any debris or sandy bits, which can sometimes happen with mussels.
Saffron Mussels in
White Wine Sauce
Makes 2 generous 1-pound servings
2 pounds mussels
¼ cup all purpose flour or cornmeal
½ cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, peeled, thinly sliced
4 medium shallots, finely chopped
2 cups good dry white wine
½ teaspoon of good saffron threads
½ cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 large handfuls of baby spinach
¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
1 large baguette
Place the mussels in a large bowl and rinse them a few times with cold water until the water runs clean. Sprinkle them with a little flour or corn meal and fill the bowl with water. Set the mussels out for 30 minutes. The mussels should start to release any debris. Drain the water and remove their beards. Scrub the shells to clean off any dirt and again rinse them thoroughly. Discard all broken shells or mussels that won’t close.
Now, prepare the sauce. Place a large stockpot over medium-high heat and slick the bottom with the olive oil and butter. When the butter melts add in the garlic and shallots, and sauté for just a few minutes. Do not allow it to burn. Reduce the heat to medium and carefully add the wine, saffron, chicken broth, salt, pepper, and thyme, stirring well. Add the mussels, bring the broth to a simmer with a closed lid and cook until the shells open, about eight minutes though it can take as little as five minutes.
To serve, line two deep wide bowls (large enough to hold one pound of mussels each) with the fresh spinach and parsley and cover it with some hot broth. Add in a few mussels and gently stir, wilting the greens. Add in the rest of the mussels and more broth if desired and serve it immediately with slices of soft bread for dipping.