Steamed Mussels with Fennel, White Wine and Tarragon
In 1998 I moved with a job to Las Vegas, Nevada. In this new landscape I started to explore different culinary points of view. Fresh seafood was now a possibility since Las Vegas had a more diverse Catholic population and as a result eating establishments started to offer fish dishes on Friday. I was the benefactor of this bounty from the sea. At first it was what I was familiar with deep fried cod. Then my attention started to wonder what was coming out to the other tables and then I asked the waiter, “What is that”? Once I uttered that question my experience with seafood deepened and I was the richer person. It was Steamed Mussels in White Wine.
The very next time my wife and I returned to that establishment I ordered Mussels in White Wine with toasted bread. The bread soaked up that flavor filled broth and I was addicted. I have played around with different recipes in the years, however this version I adapted from Cook’s Country is my hands down favorite. I am confident that even the beginning cook can do this recipe. It’s perfect for any day of the week.
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
- 6 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/4 cup minced fresh tarragon
- kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 12" baguette (cut on the bias into 12 (1" inch thick) slices)
- 1 bulb fennel (remove the stalks, quarter the bulb, cored and chopped)
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine (like a Pinot Grigio)
- 4 pounds mussels (scrubbed and de-bearded)
- Prepare your oven by adjusting the oven rack 4 inches from your broiler element and the heat broiler.
- Combine the butter, garlic and 2 tablespoons of the tarragon, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper in a small bowl. Spread 5 tablespoons of the butter mixture on a single side of the baguette slices. Place the slices on a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet, butter side up.
- In a large Dutch oven over medium heat melt 1 tablespoon of the butter mixture and allow to cook until the garlic is fragrant, this should only take about 30-40 seconds. Add the fennel and place the cover on and allow to cook until softened, this should take about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook with out the lid for an additional 3 minutes. Then add the mussels to the pot and place the lid and allow to cook until the mussels are open, this will only take about 5-8 minutes, stir twice only. Remove the pot from the direct heat and transfer the cooked mussels to individual serving bowls by using a slotted spoon that will allow the mussel stock to remain in the Dutch oven.
- At this point, broil the baguette slices until they are just reach a light brown consistency. Stir the remaining butter mixture and the remaining tarragon into the reserved mussel stock and adjust the seasoning with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Prior to serving pour the over the mussels and serve with your toasted baguette slices.