Four years ago, I went to culinary school at L'Academie de Cuisine. During my time there, we learned all about shellfish. This recipe allows the flavor of the mussels to shine. When preparing mussels, toss any that don’t close when squeezed. Serve this dish in large bowls to make room for the broth.
½ cup small-dice onion
½ cup small-dice fennel
½ cup small-dice celery
½ cup small-dice leeks
½ cup small-dice shallots
1 cup of white wine or vermouth
4 lbs of mussels, washed well and beards removed (if any)
1 bay leaf
3 cloves of garlic
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
Fresh ground pepper
In a large saucepan, sweat some white wine, celery, fennel, onion, bay leaf, leeks, garlic, thyme, shallots and pepper for about 5-10 minutes. Then add mussels all at once and cover to steam them. Should only take 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and strain mussels over a colander over a bowl to collect the liquid. (reserve ½ of steaming liquid for soup)
½ of Steaming liquid
Tomato concasse (recipe below)
Return broth to the pot on medium high heat. Add cream and other ingredients. Taste for seasoning. Pour over mussels and serve immediately.
Concasse is the French word for food that has been cut into large pieces.
Tomatoes (peeled, seeded (with juice strained and reserved), roughly chopped, about 2-3 C)
Onion (1/2 a large onion, diced)
Garlic (2-3 cloves, minced)
Salt and Pepper
Basil (couple leaves, chiffonade)
Sweat onions in olive oil for 8-10 minutes. * You could alternatively use shallots. Stir in tomatoes and garlic, and continue to cook, low and slow. Towards the end of cooking, add a bit of tomato paste to bring additional richness to the sauce. Adjust the consistency with the reserved tomato juice and taste it for seasoning. At the very end, add a couple leaves of basil chiffonade.