Serves: Makes 2 to 4 servings
- 2 pounds mussels
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1⁄2 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1⁄2 cup chopped fennel
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh italian parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds (optional)
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon julienned orange zest
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
Procedures:In this recipe, fennel three ways—the fresh bulb, the fernlike fronds, and the dried seeds—are used to infuse both the mussels and their broth. The sweetness of the fennel is perfectly balanced with the addition of white wine and orange zest. You can easily increase the recipe and make it in the familysized mussel pot, a 7- to 8-quart Dutch oven, or a 5-quart sauté pan with a lid. Don’t forget the warm baguette for soaking up the broth.
- rinse and debeard the mussels and refrigerate until needed.
- Remove the strainer from a 2-quart mussel pot and set aside. heat the butter in the mussel pot over medium heat until sizzling. Add the onion, chopped fennel, parsley, and fennel fronds, and sauté, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes until the vegetables are wilted.
- While the vegetables are cooking, coarsely crush the fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle or bruise them by cutting into them with the sharp edge of a heavy knife. Add to the sautéed vegetables along with the orange zest and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Add the salt.
- With a mitted hand, slide the strainer back into the pot. Add the mussels. Cover and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the mussels have opened. if not all of the mussels have opened, use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the opened mussels to a bowl and cover with aluminum foil. Then, re-cover and continue to cook the unopened mussels for 2 minutes, or until all are opened. Discard any mussels that do not open. Remove the pot from the heat, and return the mussels in the bowl to the mussel pot.
- Bring the mussel pot to the table. remove the lid and invert it on the table to hold the empty mussel shells. it's fun to share the mussels directly from the pot. Dip hunks of crusty warm baguette into the pot to sop up the flavorful juices that will pool through the strainer. or spoon the mussels with a little bit of the juices into shallow individual bowls and serve with bread.