Mussels – Four Ways

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Hi everyone, 

Before I start making pumpkin bread and beef stew for the fall, I decided to have one of my favorite summer meals once again – mussels.

After the summer, I personally don’t make mussels again until Christmas Eve and the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

There is no set rule for this. It is just what my mother did and I can’t seem to break the family tradition.

I prepared “Drunken Mussels” in garlic, white wine, lemon and butter and then I set out to find a few more mussel recipes to add to my repertoire.

So I bought mussels and mussels and more mussels, and began to test recipes. After 10 lbs of mussels, I wanted to share my results with all of you. I hope you find a recipe that interests you and give it a try.

Here are my recipe choices for Mussels, Four Ways.


Before you start, here are instructions to properly clean and debeard mussels.

On a personal note. I always soak my mussels in cold water with sea salt for 20 minutes to release some of the sand and grit before cleaning.

Cleaning Mussels (courtesy of serious eats)

“Farm-raised mussels are thankfully quite clean to begin with and don’t require the rigorous individual scrubbing-under-water that wild mussels do, but you’ll still have to give them a quick once over.


Mussels attach themselves to stable surfaces using thin, sticky membranes referred to as “beards.” Again, most farm-raised mussels will come debearded already, but the odds are good you’ll find a couple of stubborn beards left over.


When you find one, grasp it between your thumb and forefinger and pull it downwards towards the hinged-end of the mussel shell. Pull firmly until it comes out and discard. If you have trouble gripping the beard with just your fingers, a dry paper towel can help.

Mussels, clams, and other bivalves tend to gape open when they’re dead, but not all gaping mussels are dead yet. Some of them are just relaxing


If you happen to spot any gaping mussels in your bowl, you can check for signs of life by picking them and squeezing them a few times or knocking them with another mussel, clack clack clack. The mussel should slowly close itself back up. If it doesn’t, you’ve got a dead one on your hands. Toss it in the trash and move on with your life.


And that’s it! Your mussels are ready to cook in any number of recipes.”


  1. Remove from plastic bag and store either loose or in mesh bag.
  2. Place in bowl or unsealed container.
  3. Cover with clean damp cloth or paper towel. …
  4. Store in fridge (up to a few days and make sure they smell like the ocean)
  5. Drain daily any water that collects in bowl/container.



Drunken Mussels

I always serve this with spaghetti with the broth from the mussels.

Photo Sep 13, 6 58 44 PM DRUNKEN MUSCLES

Recipe By: Chef John (

“This seriously delicious drunken mussels recipe is one of the quickest shellfish preparations known to man. Bring a flavorful, wine-based broth to a boil, add mussels and cover; cook until they open, and eat. That’s it!”


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2 cups white wine
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 slices bread, grilled
  • 2 lemon wedges for garnish


  1. Melt butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add garlic and let sizzle for about 30 seconds. Season with red pepper flakes and lemon zest, stirring for about 45 seconds.
  2. Quickly pour in wine into the pan and season with black pepper. Bring sauce to a boil, stir in mussels, and cover immediately. Shake pot and let boil for 1 minute.
  3. Stir mussels, replace cover, and let boil for 2 more minutes. The shells will begin to open. Stir in parsley, cover pot, and cook until all shells are open, 1 to 3 minutes.
  4. Serve with grilled bread and lemon wedge.


Beer-Steamed Mussels with Bacon


Recipe by: (serious


  • 4 strips of bacon, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 medium cloves of garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3/4 cup Belgian-style ale, or witbier
  • 2 pounds fresh mussels, scrubbed clean and beards removed
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Cooks note: I reduce the mustard to 1 tsp. so it wasn’t that strong a flavor.


Place the bacon in a large stainless-steel skillet set over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Set bacon aside.

Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots soften and the garlic just begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the thyme to the pan and stir in the beer, making sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When the beer begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cleaned mussels to the pan in a single layer. Place a lid on the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, check the mussels. Using a pair of tongs, remove any mussels that have opened and transfer to a large bowl. Cover the pan again and simmer for another 5 minutes, transferring any opened mussels to the large bowl.

When all the mussels are opened and transferred to the bowl, whisk the Dijon mustard into the sauce in the pan. Taste the sauce and season with salt and black pepper. Keep in mind that the bacon, as well as the liquor given up by the mussels, are both salty, so not much additional salt may be needed.

Pour the finished sauce over the mussels, then sprinkle on the reserved bacon, as well as the chopped parsley. Serve the mussels with crusty bread and cold beer.


Mussels with Spicy Sausage and Tomatoes

* this was a favorite



2-3 hot sausages – casings removed and broken into 1 inch pieces

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. butter

4-5 garlic cloves- sliced

 1 container cherry tomatoes – sliced in half (or 1 cup san marzano tomatoes- roughly chopped)

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 stalk celery or fennel – diced (optional)

1 tbsp. flat leaf parsley – chopped

1 tsp red pepper chili flakes

Lemon slices

1 cup white wine

1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

½ cup heavy cream

2 lbs mussels – cleaned and debearded


  1. Heat a large stainless steel pan over high heat. Drizzle the olive oil into the hot pan. Add the butter. Add the sausage and cook until browned. Remove from the oil and set aside.
  2. ADD the garlic, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, thyme (and celery or fennel-optional). Cook for a few minutes. ADD the wine and cook until the alcohol has evaporated. ADD the broth, season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil
  3. ADD the mussels, cover and cook until the mussels have opened- approximately 2-4 minutes
  4. Plate the mussels in a bowl
  5. ADD the heavy cream, sausage and parsley to the sauce and mix well. Pour over the mussels and garnish with lemon slices

Serve with toasted ciabatta bread

Clams and shrimp can also be added to this recipe.


Mussels Marinara or Fra Diavolo

Photo Sep 13, 7 21 45 PM MUSSELS MARINARARecipe by: (

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 – 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dry, crisp white wine, such as a Pinot Grigio
  • 28 ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • pinch of sea salt and a few cracks of black pepper
  • about ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes if you’d like Fra Diavolo
  • 4 pounds mussels (I use Prince Edward Island Mussels)
  • ½ bunch of fresh parsley
  • 1 baguette, warmed, for serving

Cooks note: I used 2 pounds of mussels


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic for about 2 minutes, being careful not to brown it. Add the wine and bring the heat up to high. Bring the wine to a boil and simmer for another two minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the tomatoes (I crush the whole tomatoes out of the can by hand, removing any hard stem end and discarding those. Then, pour the remaining sauce from the can into the pot as well). Add the salt and the peppers.
  2. Once the sauce is at a light simmer, add the mussels, give them a stir, raise the heat to medium and cover the pot. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until all of the mussels have opened, then stir in the parsley.
  3. Serve with the warm baguette or over pasta, if desired.


Oh, and for the record, from Sydney Seafood Market health and safety questions…

Is it OK to eat Mussels that don’t open when they’re cooked?

When cooking Mussels, there are often a few stubborn shells that don’t open regardless of how long they’re cooked. Traditional wisdom was to discarded these (as they may have already been dead prior to cooking), you can, however, pry them open away from the plate of food, and if they smell good, they’re good to eat. If they are bad, your nose will tell you!

It’s still important however to discard any Mussels prior to cooking that aren’t closed and don’t close when gently tapped, as they’re not alive and it’s impossible to tell how long they’ve been dead for.

And remember to remove Mussels from the pan as soon as they open so as not to overcook them.


2 thoughts on “Mussels – Four Ways

  1. Eleanora Galizia

    Thank you for various mussel recipes. Which one did you and Bob enjoy the most? I make mussels for my gd Gianna. It is one of her favorite dishes. When I clean them, I soak in cold water with baking soda, changing the bowl and water 3 times (an hour each) ~ rinsing each time. . That is how my son was taught in cooking school years ago.
    Buon Appetite’ Diane & Bob!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. aries041158 Post author

      Hi, I will try the baking soda in the cold water next time I clean mussels; thanks for the tip. Bob and I really liked the mussels in spicy sausage and tomatoes the best, but they were all good. I was fortunate to get really plump mussels, they were beautiful. Ciao



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