2/15/11

Mussels with Garlic Butter & Wine

Where we live, winter lasts about 7 months out of the year and everything is covered in deep snow. This year we seem to be blessed with what might (?) be an early spring - or, we are just being teased because the last couple days the sun is out, the sky is blue and the snow is quickly melting.

My husband and I long to live near the ocean and make at least one annual trip to the beach every year; lately we've been trying to make it two. We are currently planning the first one, coming up next month and with the thoughts of sun, sand and sea coupled with the blue sky outside my kitchen window, my thoughts turn to the amazing seafood I will have.

In honor of mussels, here is a photo of the last mussels I bought and a recipe I found online a year or two ago but is a very basic recipe that everyone uses and is written easy enough for all to understand.

Mussels with Garlic Butter and Wine

1 1/2 pounds fresh cleaned mussels
1/4 cup white wine
1 teaspoon minced garlic
dash lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter


Preheat a pan over medium heat. Once you have chopped your garlic, place a small amount of butter into your preheated pan. Stir the garlic into the butter. A light olive oil could be substituted for butter.

Cook the garlic in the pan until it becomes a tan color. Do not burn the garlic, as burned garlic is very bitter. If you do wind up overcooking the garlic, throw out both the butter and the garlic, then wipe out the pan and start over.

Once the garlic is tan, add the mussels. Do not add too many mussels to the pan at once. If the mussels are stacked on top of each other, the weight of the other mussels will make it more difficult for the mussels on the bottom to open. Using this method, you should only cook enough mussels to cover the bottom of the pan at one time. Toss the mussels around in the garlic butter and coat the shells with the fat. Be careful not to be too rough when tossing the mussels in the butter, as the shells are somewhat fragile and will crack and chip.

Once the mussels have been coated, add about 1/4 cup of wine per dozen mussels. This creates the necessary steam required to open the shells. It will also decrease the overall heat within the pan. Cover the mussels with a lid to finish cooking.

After about 4 minutes, remove the lid. At this point, most if not all of the mussels will be open. Mussels, unlike clams, will open before they are cooked all of the way through. If some of your mussels have not opened, then it is possible that either they were not cooked long enough, or they are bad and should be discarded. If most of them have not yet opened, place the cover back on the pan and wait another minute or two. Be careful not to cook the mussels for too long, as they will become tough and grainy if overcooked.

Remove the mussels from the pan. Pour the juices left in the saucepan into your serving plate or bowl with the mussels. The juice is delicious when sopped up with slices of fresh bread.
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