Jasper White, whose Summer Shack Restaurants are New England favorites, and whose cookbooks are perennial bestsellers, is the definitive expert on clams, mussels and lobster. Chef White offers this classic recipe for mussels steamed in wine and herbs. (Note: If you use wild mussels rather than farm-raised, you will need to scrub and debeard them first.)
Wine recommendation: The wine of choice is the same one used to cook the mussels, if you can spare the two cups. Chef White recommends a crisp, somewhat acidic wine. A medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc, such as Tramin 2003 Sauvignon from Italy, fits that bill, as would a quality Pinot Gris.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bay leaf, broken in half
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons shallots, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, minced
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 2 cups white wine
- 3 pounds mussels, cleaned, rinsed, and drained
- 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
Heat the oil in a sauté pan or pot large enough to hold the mussels. Sauté the bay leaf and pepper over medium heat for 30 seconds until sizzling, then add the shallots, thyme, tarragon and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine, cover the pan and bring to a boil. Add the mussels. Cover and steam 6 to 7 minutes, or until all the shells are open. (Discard any mussels whose shells have not opened within this time frame.)
Remove pan from heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the mussels to a large bowl. Return pan to the heat and bring the liquid to a rolling boil. While the liquid is boiling, whisk in the butter, one piece at a time. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parsley and chives. Pour over the mussels in the bowl and serve.