Have you ever sat at a bustling sidewalk café, watching the locals and chowing on delicate mussels and frites? It’s a comfort food in many countries that’s definitely more sophisticated than a greasy bowl of mac and cheese. If you’re craving some comfort but don’t want to sacrifice your style, make your own batch of mussels with a rich broth in which you can dip your skinny fries. It makes you feel luxurious, but it’s easier to bake up than a homemade pizza.
If you’re lucky enough to live on the coast, you may be able to get fresh mussels. This recipe also works well with clams, though. If you can’t get your seafood straight from the source, grab it from the frozen section of your local grocery store.
Fresh or frozen mussels or clams in their shells (one pound is great for one person)
High-quality olive oil
1 cup white wine
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
Fresh or dried herbs, such as tarragon, thyme and parsley
2-3 cloves minced garlic
Optional aioli dipping sauce:
¼ cup mayonnaise
More herbs (tarragon, thyme, parsley)
1 clove minced garlic
Whip it up: Scrub the shells of the fresh seafood, discarding any that are open or broken. Frozen mussels or clams in their shells are usually precooked and don’t have to be washed. Heat up about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or pan that has a lid. Add the minced garlic, stirring continuously for about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup of white wine and 1 cup of broth, and sprinkle in about ½ a teaspoon of each herb (more if they’re fresh), as well as a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add the mussels or clams. Once the mixture starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Check frequently for the fresh mussels or clams to open, removing each one as it opens and setting it in a large bowl. Once they have all been cooked through, strain the cooking liquid, pouring it over the cooked mussels and clams.
Serve the mussels with a large spoon for scooping out the broth. Bake up some frozen shoestring fries on the side and add a crusty loaf of bread. For a really indulgent treat, mix together a few tablespoons of mayonnaise with a generous squeeze of lemon, a dash of herbs and a clove of minced garlic for a lovely aioli dipping sauce.