Steamed Mussels Recipe

There's nothing like a big bowl of mussels surrounded by a flavorful, aromatic broth for dinner. Crusty french bread for dipping and some beer or wine to sip on and your simple but gourmet dinner is complete.
 Figure on about a pound of mussels per person when you serve them as the main course, about 1/2 of that quantity when you serve these as an appetizer.
Scrub and debeard the mussels. Remember that they are alive, so their shells should be closed. If one seems slightly open, rest it separately on your counter. If it doesn't close after tapping it lightly on the sink edge or counter then discard that mussel. The following is a guide for steaming 2 pounds of mussels. Photo and recipe inspired by an excerpt from  Salon Magazine.

 Broth to steam your mussels includes:
1. Aromatics: You choose depending on your taste, 1 or more of these flavorful additions - garlic, onion, shallots, ginger, lemongrass, chilies, bacon or salami...chopped or sliced, butter for sauteing these.
2. 1/2 cup wine, beer, or juice, or whatever liquid you would prefer. Use more if you want your recipe brothier, but mussels do release liquid when they are steamed.
For finishing your broth:
3. Chopped fresh herbs of your preference, or what you find in the kitchen. This can be parsley or coriander, thyme, rosemary ...a little orange zest? a handful of one type of herb or a combination of flavors is fine.
4. Butter, or cream to enrich your broth (makes the broth creamier)
5. Lemon or lime slices for serving
Salt and pepper. Just remember that mussels do tend to be salty.
Use a large pot that your quantity of mussels will fit in comfortably. Melt some butter and/or olive oil in the pot. Saute your choice of aromatics until softened. Then add your liquid and turn up the heat to high. When your liquid is boiling add the mussels all at once. Cover the pot and give it a good hard shake to evenly distribute your ingredients. Check the mussels after 2 minutes. The shells should be starting to open. Give the pot another firm shake and continue to cook for 1 or 2 minutes. If there are a few stubborn shells that still aren't open, discard them. You don't want to overcook the rest of the mussels in an effort to cook a couple of stragglers.
Tip the pot so that the mussels are resting to one side. Hold them back with a large spoon. Add the rest of your seasonings into the broth. Add pepper to suit, salt if needed and your chopped fresh herbs. Now, to make the broth creamy, stir in butter and/or cream. Stir with a large spoon to incorporate all ingredients. Serve right away. Place mussels and broth in large bowls with lemon or lime wedges. Include a bowl for shells and of course plenty of crusty French bread to dip in the broth. Enjoy!

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