Mussels are the kind of food that most people only eat at restaurants, so it may not be something you’ve ever thought about trying to make it home on your own.
They’re actually pretty easy to make, though, and I’ll show you how to prepare mussels in wine quickly and simply to make a delightful seafood dish you’ll want to share with guests.
This classic dish has a really tasty broth that’s just packed with flavor. The combination of salty mussels and white wine is a match made in heaven.
You’re basically just sauteing shallots and garlic using cooking oil or butter. You add a few little seasonings, the white wine, and your mussels.
You can garnish with some lemon juice, parsley, and perhaps a little cream. I’ll also share with you a method for making mussels in a cream sauce.
Preparing the Mussels
Before I get in to how to cook mussels in white wine, I want to share with you how to clean them before you cook them up. Cleaning them is important if you want to keep the seafood sanitary and ensure that nothing interferes with the taste and texture of your meal. Make sure you clean the mussels just before cooking them and not earlier, or you will affect the flavor and freshness.
Start by rinsing the mussel shells one at a time under cool running water. Scrub away gently at the shells, removing any dirt or debris you see. Don’t let the mussel shells you aren’t working with fill with water while you clean.
Remove any hairy-looking things you see on the mussels, which are known as the beard. You don’t want to eat that. Just grab it and pull it in the direction of the tail of the mussel. That would be the narrow end. It should come out just by you pulling on it, but if not, you can cut it as close to the base of the shell as you can using a pair of scissors.
How to Make Mussels in White Wine Sauce
- 4 pounds of cleaned mussels
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small shallot, sliced thin
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or butter)
- ½ teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 cup of dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons of minced parsley
- Lemon juice from half a lemon
- ¼ cup of cream (optional)
- Melt your butter in a large pot on the stovetop, using medium high heat.
- Once the butter is melted, added the garlic and shallots and allow them to cook for three minutes.
- Add in the black pepper, bay leaves, and white wine until the wine reaches a boil.
- Next, add the mussels to the pot and cover the pot. Allow them to cook for three minutes and then remove the lid and give the mussels a stir. If some of the mussels are not opened yet, push them down to the bottom of the pot to put them nearer the heat.
- Allow them to cook for five minutes and then take the pot off the heat. Any mussels that have not opened at that point will need to be discarded.
- Sprinkle lemon juice and mix together (use cream if you are adding it). Garnish with parsley and serve.
How to Cook Mussels in White Wine Cream Sauce
The recipe I gave you above for cooking mussels can be served with a thin lemon sauce or thicker crem sauce. The cream is mentioned as an optional ingredient, and adding it gives you a thicker sauce that is richer and very tasty.
The mussels don’t actually cook in the cream sauce. You’ll simply add that at the end. The cream sauce will warm as you pour it over the mussels, but you can heat it and pour it warm over the mussels.
The sauce can be prepared separately, if you wish, mixing together a quarter cup of cream and the juice from a whole lemon (or a teaspoon of lemon juice).
You can warm that up in the microwave for about 30 seconds and then add it to the mussels and the white wine liquid they are already cooking in. The added cream will thicken the liquid around the mussels and make for a lovely sauce to complement the mussels.
What Goes with Mussels in White Wine?
For this dish, I usually prefer something salty and fired as a perfect pairing. My go-to side dish is French fries, but variations like potato wedges, potato skins and sweet potato fries are all excellent choices as well.
Moving outside of the fry side dish, you could also opt for breaded, fried cheese sticks, served with some marinara dipping sauce. That acidic, tomato-based sauce is a good way to have a little contrast in your meal when it is served alongside mussels in white wine sauce.
You could also go with a seafood spread, adding fried shrimp and cocktail dipping sauce for a similar experience to the cheese sticks. Lobster, crab and even whitefish filets are all good choices too, but be sure to consider how their sauces and seasonings might affect and even clash with the seasonings and flavors of the mussels.
For an exotic seafood spread, I might add in some fried calamari (served with cocktail sauce too), oysters, or clams, depending on what I have available and what I feel like incorporating into the spread.
For dessert, I believe a tart but sweet dessert pairs best with the white wine mussels to finish off the meal. Something like a key lime pie is a perfect way to end the dinner on a beautiful note.
You can serve the mussels with some dipping sauces in addition to the sauce they cook in. You may want to try some melted butter or hot sauce as added dipping options, and these can change up the experience enough so that there is a lot of variety in this dish.