Mussels for Lunch Today

This morning I found mussels (mejillones) at the mercado so I snatched up a bag for $1 and hurried home to clean them and get them in the refrigerator.

I am addicted to cooking and garden shows, and so I get most of my ideas from watching folks like Julia Child and Jacques Pippin make cooking look so easy.  Joe downloads anything in these two categories that he can get his hands on. I am currently watching Season 2 of Laura Calder’s French Food at Home series. One of the recent episodes was a show on mussels. I am going to try that recipe –  with my personal changes of course – for our lunch today.

First you need to look at your mussels to be sure they are still alive – no cracked or open shells. If a shell is open, tap it gently to see if it closes. All of the ones I bought were good to go. Clean them well under running water, even used a small veggie brush to take away any sand and removed the beard at this point by pulling downward. Drain and leave in a colander, with a dish underneath, and cover with a damp piece of paper towel and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.

Mussels Steamed in Wine


  • 1 – 2 pounds mussels
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 t red pepper flakes
  • 5-8 peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoon butter
  • A handful chopped fresh basil


  1. Add the olive oil, bay leaf, shallots, garlic, red pepper flakes and peppercorns to a large pot and sauté for a few minutes, be careful not to burn the garlic or shallots. The ingredients should perfume before adding the wine. Bring to a simmer and add the mussels, cover, and steam until they open, 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the mussels to a large serving bowl with a slotted spoon, discarding any that have not opened. Bring the wine to a boil and whisk the butter in, along with half of the basil, cook for one minute and pour over the mussels.  At this point you could also add a few tablespoons of cream but I felt the butter was more than enough flavor for this dish.
  3. Sprinkle the remaining basil over the mussels and serve with thick slices of french bread or any hardy homemade bread.

I use Chilean Clos white wine because it has a screw cap and can be kept in the refrigerator for months and it is still good to use in these type recipes. It is very difficult to find shallots here, I had three small ones from several months back. If you cannot find them you can use spring onions or any onion just for the flavor.

Joe loved every single mussel and sat with a spoon and bread to get every last drop of the liquid. I would say that this recipe was a huge hit at our house and it cost .50 cents per person for the main ingredient. What a deal!