If you want to prepare a sophisticated meal in almost no time at all, you can’t beat mussels, which are a crowd pleaser when cooked simply in with wine and shallots, as in the French classic known as moules marinière. Here, we take that iconic Gallic dish and give it a little twist (and a hint of color) with saffron, but you can omit it if you prefer. Be sure to discard any mussels that are open when raw (unless they close when you tap them on your work surface), and then discard any that remain closed once they have been cooked.
Mussels Marinière with Saffron
1 cup (8 fl. oz./500 ml) dry white wine
3 shallots, minced
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. saffron threads
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 1/2 lb. (1.25 kg) mussels, well scrubbed and debearded
Baguette slices for serving
In a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, combine the wine, shallots, butter, 1 Tbs. of the parsley and the bay leaf. Crumble the saffron threads into the pot and season to taste with pepper. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the broth is aromatic, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the mussels, discarding any that do not close to the touch. Cover the pan tightly and steam the mussels until they open, about 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally so they cook evenly. Discard any mussels that did not open.
To serve, spoon the mussels into large warmed soup bowls, ladle some of the broth over them and sprinkle with the remaining 2 Tbs. parsley. Serve immediately, with baguette slices for dipping in the broth. Serves 2 to 4.
Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen