Quick-cooking and economical, mussels are ideal for an easy weeknight dinner. Here they are cooked with fennel and saffron for an especially aromatic dish. 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. Serve with plenty of crusty bread for sopping up the delicious liquid.
Mussels with Fennel and Saffron
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 shallots, minced
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced and fronds reserved
1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) dry white wine
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) chicken stock
1/2 tsp. saffron threads
Freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 lb. (1.25 kg) mussels
Baguette slices for serving
In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and sliced fennel bulb and sauté until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and chicken stock to the pot and crumble in the saffron threads. 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 to the pot, discarding any that do not close to the touch. Cover the pot 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.
Chop the fennel fronds to yield about 3 Tbs. To serve, ladle the mussels and broth into warmed bowls and sprinkle with the chopped fennel fronds. Serve immediately with the baguette slices for dipping in the broth. Serves 2 to 4.
Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen