Mussels in White Wine

Happy New Year, friends! I’m a little sad to say goodbye to 2012, but nothing that a little (or a lot) of seafood can’t fix. It’s been a tradition in our house to have a seafood feast at New Year’s, and we’ve even been known to eat so much that we can barely breathe (resolution that year: reduce gluttony).

Some of my favorite meals are the ones that I don’t have to cook myself, and my husband did most of the cooking for our New Year’s Eve dinner. About 25 years ago I went to France with my family, and we had these mussels at a restaurant. For the next 25 years my parents talked about it. My husband grew up in France, so between all of us there is a significant Moules marinieres fan base in the family. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law kindly gifted me Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris which has a delicious version of this recipe.

Start by soaking the live mussels in water and flour for 30 minutes, which gets them to expel sand (mmm, nothing more appetizing than “expel” in a recipe).

Then, de-beard the mussels. Let them reveal their true identities.

My husband is wearing gloves because he sliced off part of his fingernail and finger using an ultra-sharp mandoline that I got from Sandra for Christmas. We love the mandoline but the lesson here is that when you use instruments made from a country with a sword heritage. you should be careful.

Sautee the shallots and add garlic.

Then add tomatoes, saffron, parsley, thyme, wine, salt, and pepper.

Add the mussels and stir.

Cook til the mussels open.

And then try not to eat too much.

Wishing you a savory 2013!

MUSSELS IN WINE SAUCE (Ina Garten, Barefoot in Paris)


  • 3 pounds cultivated mussels
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped shallots (5 to 7 shallots)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (5 to 6 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup chopped canned plum tomatoes, drained (4 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon good saffron threads
  • 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup good white wine
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


To clean the mussels, put them in a large bowl with 2 quarts of water and the flour and soak for 30 minutes, or until the mussels disgorge any sand. Drain the mussels, then remove the “beard” from each with your fingers. If they’re dirty, scrub the mussels with a brush under running water. Discard any mussels whose shells aren’t tightly shut.

In a large non-aluminum stockpot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes; then add the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes, or until the shallots are translucent. Add the tomatoes, saffron, parsley, thyme, wine, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil.

Add the mussels, stir well, then cover the pot, and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until all the mussels are opened (discard any that do not open). With the lid on, shake the pot once or twice to be sure the mussels don’t burn on the bottom. Pour the mussels and the sauce into a large bowl and serve hot.

Serves 2; can be easily doubled.


  • January 2, 2013 - 10:25 AM | Permalink

    Yummmm this looks SO good! Thanks for reminding me how much I love mussels! I’ll have to check the local market price, and see if we can make this this week! I also appreciate that you added the step with flour and water… nothing worse than crunching into a sandy invertebrate, right? So many recipes neglect this small effort that makes such a nice difference. YAY!

    • January 2, 2013 - 5:11 PM | Permalink

      Thanks Sophie! I don’t know if you have a good Asian market nearby, but everywhere I’ve lived I’ve found them to be the best places to get seafood, price and quality-wise. And you’re right, who wants to eat sand!

  • PG
    January 7, 2013 - 12:30 AM | Permalink

    Are you sure it is for 2? Recommend eating the soup with a spoon (new idea) and a tranche of garlic bread!

    • January 7, 2013 - 1:29 PM | Permalink

      It’s for 2 the way that we eat it!!! Mmm, garlic bread…excellent addition!

  • Sandra
    January 15, 2013 - 3:38 AM | Permalink

    Did the mandolin scar him for life? Is he like one of those construction workers who have only half a finger and we try not to stare or throw up? How were those little gloves going to protect him from his knife?

    • January 16, 2013 - 9:30 PM | Permalink

      I think he is semi-scarred for life…he now has a part of his fingernail which is missing and exposing the meaty part of his nail bed. He put on those gloves AFTER the cutting off of the finger parts!

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