I love serving a large steaming batch of mussels and placing them in the middle of the table so that people can just dig in. Of course it is pretty much mandatory that mussels be served with plenty of bread for soaking up the extra sauce. And the sauce used for this recipe is perfect for dipping, similar to a scampi sauce – with a garlic and white wine base and butter added for extra richness just before serving. (And don’t forget to put out bowls for discarded shells!)
To clean the mussels, start by rinsing them well under cool water. Scrub them as needed to remove any remaining debris on the shells. Make sure that all the mussels are debearded, meaning that the hair-like fibers that grow on the mussel are removed from the shell.
While many commercial mussels come debearded already, it doesn’t hurt to check them over once more. To do this, grab the beard with your fingers and pull it towards the hinge of the mussel shell or use a knife to gently scrape it away. Mussels are sold live as they spoil quickly once they die. Discard any mussels that have broken shells or do not open after cooking, as they are already dead.
When serving mussels as an entree, I adhere to the general rule of about ¾ pound to 1 pound of mussels per person and of course the amount also depends on the size of the appetites of your dinner guests.
There are about 20 to 25 PEI (Prince Edward Island) mussels in each pound and 14 to 18 per pound for Mediterranean mussels.
White wine is the base for the white wine steamed mussels. Use a dry white wine for this dish it won’t overpower the dish by making it too sweet. While I will use just about any white wine in a pinch I prefer cooking with Sauvignon blanc. Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink!
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