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Steamed Mussels in White Wine and Fennel : The Wimpy Vegetarian
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Steamed Mussels in White Wine with Fennel

Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Servings: 4


  • 4 pounds mussels
  • 1/2 bottle white wine I used a Sauvignon Blanc
  • 6 pieces smoked bacon sliced into lardons
  • 2 poblano chiles optional
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 leek
  • 4 shallots
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large head of fennel
  • 1 8- ounce bottle clam juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
  • Italian parsley


  • Scrub the mussels and remove any beards. Add the wine to a pot large enough to accommodate the mussels, and bring to a low simmer over medium-high heat. Add the mussels. It's fine for them to be piled on each other up to two or three layers, but more than that risks mussel shell breakage and may prevent the shells from fully opening. Cover with a lid.
  • Steam for 10 minutes or until all mussels have opened. Remove the mussels and refrigerate until ready to add them to the vegetable broth at the end.
  • Reserve wine / mussel broth.
  • Fry the bacon in a pot large enough to accommodate the entire dish, until just getting crispy while you prep the vegetables. For prepping: 1) broil the chiles until well darkened. Place in a bag for 10 minutes. Peel, chop of the stems, and slice open to remove the seeds. Coarsely chop. 2) Dice the onions into 1/4" pieces. 3) Slice off the root and the dark green tops off of the leek; cut in half lengthwise. Feather the layers of the leek open under cold running water to remove any sand or mud. Thinly slice across the width of the each half. 4) Thinly slice each shallot, and coarsely chop a couple of times. 5) Halve the cherry tomatoes. 6) Thinly slice the fennel. I do this on a mandolin on the thinnest setting. A potato peeler or sharp knife can be effective too. Fennel takes a while to soften even slightly, so the thinner, the better.
  • When the bacon is ready, add all of the prepped vegetables to the pot. Toss in the bacon grease and simmer for 20 minutes, or until everything except the fennel is softened.
  • Add the reserved wine - mussel broth, the clam juice, herbs and salt and pepper, and bring back to a simmer. Simmer for 3 - 4 minutes and add the mussels back in. Cover the pot, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the mussels are warm.
  • Serve sprinkled with a little Italian parsley and a side of crusty bread for dipping in the the broth.