Mussels Provençal with Toasts from The Happy Cook by Daphne Oz

seafood_mussels_provencal-152_retouched

What does your Valentine’s Day menu need? This recipe for Mussels Provençal with Toasts from The Happy Cook by Daphne Oz–it’s perfect for a special meal and delivers on flavor, too.

In The Happy Cook, Daphne Oz–author of the New York Times bestselling cookbook Relish and co-host of The Chew–is back with a cookbook filled with smart advice, expert tips, inspiring ideas, and best of all, 125 simple yet fabulous recipes that will transform the most nervous or reluctant novice into a happy, confident home cook. Daphne makes cooking fun and relaxing and shows anyone—newbie or seasoned expert—how to celebrate every day with delicious meals that are as easy to create as they are to enjoy. The Happy Cook is on sale now. Purchase a copy from your favorite retailer.

Mussels Provençal with Toasts

Each summer my family loves to visit a restaurant up in Maine called Street & Co., where they serve the most insane mussels—sweet, tender, saline—bathed in a rich broth of butter and white wine and an impossible amount of minced garlic. The mussels steam and drink up the essence of this bath, flavoring every plump morsel. After you devour the mound of mussels, hunks of fresh sourdough bread are on standby to sop up any remaining broth. Are you drooling yet? You should be. This is the version I make at home when Maine is out of reach. I’ve added a ton of fresh herbs to my broth, which allows me to cut down on the butter just a smidge without skimping on flavor. The trick to great mussels is to cook them quickly, and to pour plenty of tasty wine into the steam bath for them to drink up—remember, you want them to steam, not boil, so make sure there’s enough liquid to coat the bottom of the pan, but none of the mussels should be entirely submerged. A wide, heavy-bottomed pan works best, ideally with a lid, though covering with foil and a baking sheet will work. The other trick (and this is more of a personal preference thing) is to channel your inner mermaid when you eat them: Use the empty shell of one mussel like pincers to pluck each tender mussel from its own shell and pop it into your mouth. Or you can take all the mussels out of their shells and toss them in the broth to be eaten with a spoon or scooped up with bread for an equally delicious enterprise. A splash of cream into the broth at this point has also been known to happen, but leave out the lemons if you go this route.

seafood_mussels_provencal-152_retouchedMakes 4 servings

  • 4 pounds mussels
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced, plus
  • 1 whole clove for rubbing the toasts
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves or flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 to 1 cup low-sodium chicken, fish/shrimp, or vegetable broth
  • 1 baguette, halved horizontally and quartered crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Discard any mussels that have severely cracked or crushed shells.

Give any that are slightly open a few taps on the countertop—if they close on their own, it means they’re still healthy, alive, and good to eat! If they stay open, toss them.

Place the mussels in a colander and set it under cold running water to rinse them clean. Pull out any hairy beards (these will make your broth grainy and cloudy) and scrub the shells with a sponge or clean nail brush to loosen any grit, then rinse again. Place mussels in a large bowl of clean water and set aside.

In a large Dutch oven, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and the kosher salt and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and cook, stirring often, until the garlic is fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium-high, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. You want the mussels to steam, not boil, so if the liquid comes up more than 1 inch in the pan, just use a litt le less broth. The wine is what’s most important for a good steam.

Just before you drop the mussels in to steam, toast the bread: Preheat the broiler to high. Place the baguett e pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with fl aky salt.

Set the lemons cut side up on the pan with the baguett es. Broil the bread and lemons until they are both browned, 2 to 3 minutes for the bread; the lemons might take a minute or two longer (watch the bread and lemons closely, as broiler intensities vary). Set the bread and lemons aside. Rub the bread with the remaining garlic clove.

Add the mussels to the pot, cover, and let them steam until just open 3 minutes or so. As soon as they open, take them off the heat or they will overcook and get rubbery. Use a slott ed spoon to transfer the mussels to a large bowl. Swirl the remaining 2 tablespoons butt er into the broth; taste and add kosher salt if needed. Discard the bay leaf and return the mussels to the pot.

Serve family style, or divide the mussels among four bowls. Sprinkle the basil, chives, and parsley into the broth, swirl, and ladle over the mussels. Serve immediately with a pile of baguett e toasts and a charred lemon half for each person to squeeze over the mussels before eating.

Happy Cook

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