Start with 2 pounds of live mussels in the shell. Rinse them off and clean off any beard that might be there. The mussels that I buy at Central Market barely need any cleaning at all. If one doesn’t naturally close when you run cold water into it or tap it on the counter, throw it away. It’s dead.
The recipe originally calls for shallots. I didn’t have any today. So, I used sliced green onion, the white part. Fresh bay leaves are fantastic. If you don’t have fresh use one dried bay leaf. The flavor of dried can ba more pungent. Several cloves of garlic mashed through a press or chopped. A few sprigs of parsley. And white wine. I use Chardonnay because that’s what’s usually in the fridge. Any dry white will do. Butter comes at the end.
Throw everything into the pot except the mussels. I’d say that’s about a cup of wine.
Let it simmer over med-high heat to combine the flavors and kill some of the alcohol flavor. Add the mussels and cover the pot for 3 or 4 minutes. Open and turn them over, pulling the bottom ones up to the top. Cover and cook for a little while longer. As soon as they are open, they are done. So, don’t overcook.
With a slotted spoon, move the mussels to a big bowl leaving the juices behind. Remove one side of the mussel shell from each. If they don’t open or if you can’t pull off the other side easily, toss those too. Put the side of the shell containing the meat into a serving dish. Meanwhile, reduce the juices until it tastes good to you. Then add half a stick of cold butter cut into pieces. Take off heat and swirl until melted or stir with a spoon. Pour the sauce over the mussels in the serving dish.
The ones I had in the summer were prettier. So, here’s their picture. These were made with shallots.
Serve with crusty bread for dipping into the juice. Yum.