Mussels in a white wine broth is the kind of dish I have unilaterally positive associations with. I'll often order it as an appetizer in restaurants (almost always to share with friends and family...unless I'm feeling particularly ravenous and greedy...). Done right, it's a well-executed two-part equation: stellar mussels + divine broth. And when the broth is really good, the best part of the dish is arguably the end, when you take some of your favorite (gluten-free) bread and dip it in the sauce, soaking up all that flavorful goodness.
For whatever reason, it's a dish we've seldom made at home...until now. Kelli recently had a craving, and thank goodness. The recipe she whipped up - dare I say it - is as good as any we've had at a restaurant. (It's a bold claim, I know, but when I love a dish, I've never been one to be shy about saying so.) Here is how we (ahem...she) made it:
1/3 medium onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp salted butter
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Dash of black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
3 lbs live, cleaned mussels (beards removed)
1/2 tomato, diced
1. Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a heavy saucepot (4+ quart capacity).
2. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and black pepper, and saute until the onions are soft, about 4 minutes.
3. Add the wine, and bring to a simmer.
4. Add the mussels, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and steam for 5-7 minutes, until all the mussels have opened.
5. Remove the mussels from the pot. (You can transfer them to a serving bowl, or simply set them aside momentarily if you're plating individual servings.)
6. Add the tomato, and continue to simmer the broth for 10 minutes over medium-high heat.
7. Pour the broth over the mussels, and serve with your favorite crusty bread.
A couple of notes:
If you're wondering, we used Sebeka's Chenin Blanc "Steen" wine, which our local liquor store retails for the dirt cheap price of just $8 per bottle.
Also, it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: always work with live mussels. If they're open while you're cleaning them, give them a little squeeze. The shell should reflexively close. If it stays open, it's probably dead. Discard it. On the flip side, live mussels will open when cooked. If, after steaming, a mussel is still closed, it's also dead. Discard. Depending on the quality of the mussels, up to 30% of a batch might end up being discarded. Even so, that's a small price to pay to avoid food poisoning.
Lastly, this recipe serves 4 people as an appetizer. (We enjoyed it as a dinner for just the two of us...)