Ouzo Drenched Mussels

I really love mussels in white wine sauce but always thought that was the kind of food I would only order in a restaurant.  But one day I was reading the Wall Street Journal and came across this recipe and thought that just maybe I could do this at home. This wonderful recipe by Manhattan’s Balaboosta chef, Einat Admony for Ouzo Drenched Mussels with Fennel is  fabulous and as long as you have a good source of fresh and already cleaned and debearded mussels – it’s also easy to make. As with Chinese cooking, you need to have everything prepped and ready to go since it really only takes about a total of 15 minutes to actually cook.

I served it up with a crusty baguette and Admony’s recipe for Green Fatoush Salad. It was all so healthy, I didn’t even have to feel guilty. Well, except for that Pecan Pie with vanilla ice cream that I had for dessert….

By the way, while my husband and I ate this as a main course, it could easily make a fabulous first course for more people.

Mussels in ouzo

Adapted from Einat Admony’s Ouzo-Drenched Mussels with Fennel as it appeared in the Wall Street Journal 

Yield: 2 main course servings or 4 servings as a first course

Ingredients

4 garlic cloves thinly sliced or 2 teaspoons finely chopped

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons EVOO

1 cup chopped or thinly sliced shallots

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise

1/2 of a large fennel bulb cored and thinly sliced

2 Tablespoons chopped fennel fronds

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste

Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (I like lemon thyme if I can get it. In fact I like it so much that I am now growing it on my windowsill to ensure supply.)

1/2 cup Ouzo

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 pounds of mussels, cleaned and debearded (ask your fish monger to do this)

2 Tablespoons chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

Directions

  1. In a large, lidded pot over low heat, sauté garlic in butter and oil until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium, add shallots and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, sliced fennel, chili flakes, thyme and pinches of salt and pepper, and sauté until vegetables soften, about 2-3 minutes.  tomatoes and thyme
  2. Pour ouzo and wine into pot and simmer until alcohol cooks off, about 4 minutes. ouzoStir in mussels. Quickly cover pot with lid and steam mussels until they open, about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat, toss in parsley and fennel fronds. fennel fronds
  3. Gently toss mussels to coat in pan drippings. Serve immediately with good crusty bread. (And be sure to soak up all of that wonderful pot liquor with the bread – it’s the best part! A little briny and full of fennel, shallots and fresh herbs.) If any mussels don’t open on their own – toss them! In 2 pounds of mussels, we had only one that didn’t open. If you have more than 2 – complain to your fish monger.
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