I favor vermouth when cooking mussels, but dry white wine works perfectly. My love of vermouth comes from my chefs, especially Chris; it’s just what he used! I always add just one more Provencal flavor at the very end, and it’s usually basil. Or fennel. Or a dash or two of dried tarragon to deliver the hint of anise that melds perfectly with the mussels and their fragrant broth.
—From Cooking from the Heart: My Favorite Lessons Learned Along the Way by John Besh/Andrews McMeel Publishing
- 4 pounds mussels
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 bunch green onions, white and green parts
- A frond or two of fennel, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup vermouth
- 2 sprigs freshthyme
- 2 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Leaves from 4 sprigs fresh basil,sliced
- Crusty bread, for serving
1. Rinse and scrub the mussels under cold running water and debeard them by pulling off their hanging threads. Discard any cracked mussels.
2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the green onions, fennel, and garlic and cook about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes and deglaze the pot with the vermouth. Add the thyme, parsley, and mussels. Season with salt and pepper. Give the mussels a good stir, then cover and steam, shaking the pot occasionally to move the mussels around. Cook until the mussels open about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve hot with plenty of crispy bread.