Mussels are memorable and customizable. Lightning fast to make. Simple. Bread was made to be dunked in flavorful, rich mussel broth.
Here’s your casual-fancy mussel manifesto: black mussels + hard salami + sun-dried tomato + beer
Got it? Good. Now, get your charred bread ready because things are about to get sopping delicious in about 20 minutes.
Watch How to Braise Mussels in Beer
You can see how much liquid comes off of the mussels when you cover them.
Black Mussels in Beer Broth
Black mussels are more tender than green mussels and we love them because they are a sustainable seafood. I’m a huge fan of white wine sauce with mussels but alas, I am a beer drinker so am far more likely to have beer, you know, lying around. If you’ve never tried beer with mussels, you are missing out!
HOW-TO CLEAN MUSSELS
- olive oil: you need a little fat for sweating the onion; butter would also be fabulous
- onion: white or yellow onion is best (medium = 1/2 cup chopped)
- sun-dried tomatoes: if super hard, you can soften them with a tablespoon of boiling water then chop; you could substitute 1 tablespoon tomato paste (but try to get the tomatoes if you can)
- Soppressata is a kind of dry cured salami that can have a sweet, salty, or spicy flavor and contains seasonings like garlic and fennel seed. It’s available where deli meats are sold.
- black mussels: 1 pound per person if an appetizer or 2 pounds per person for a meal; must be fresh
- beer: Amberbock (dark lager) or shiner bock to keep it somewhat light while still getting caramelly/nutty slightly hoppy flavors
- parsley: something green as a garnish gives the broth fresh flavor
- bread: can be toasted with butter as a crostini but I love a nice charred bread best
Braising Mussels Recipe Rundown
Step 1 – Saute the onion, sun-dried tomato and soppressata.
Put the olive oil in a large pot that can later be covered, and turn the heat to medium. Combine the onion, sun-dried tomato and soppressata. Stir occasionally to cook evenly and to release the flavors, about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and somewhat translucent.
Step 2 – Toss and serve.
Put the cleaned mussels in the pot; cover and cook, shaking the pot occasionally, until mussels open, about 10 minutes. If they have not generated enough broth for you, add the beer/wine and cook, uncovered, another 2 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve with grilled crusty bread.
Mussel doesn’t open when cooked? Many professional cooks will tell you to discard mussels that don’t open, but not so fast. It’s possible that some shells were pushed closed during cooking or that the mussel didn’t relax and if that’s the case, you can still serve them. Before discarding, compare the smell, color, and texture of the closed mussels to the open ones.
Live versus chilled versus frozen – What’s the difference?
Live mussels are still breathing when sold and will live for up to 4 days if handled correctly. Chilled mussels can be used if you trust the supply chain and if they pass a sensory test. Frozen mussels are partially cooked so will need less time to cook than fresh, raw mussels. If you want to use mussels that are frozen in the whole shell, you can use them at a 1:1 ratio. If the frozen mussels contain a half-shell, then you will only need 2 pounds in this recipe.
Live mussels – should I remove the beard?
You don’t have to but you should. The beard is where the mussel attaches to rocks so it can be tough, visually unappealing, and impart residue in the broth.
Shellfish/seafood allergy – am I allergic to mussels, too?
A mussel is a type of shellfish called a bivalve, which is a mollusk and is different from a crustacean (shrimp, lobster, and crab). A lot of people believe they are allergic to all shellfish, but in fact they can be allergic to either both or only one of these types of shellfish.
Seasonality and mussels
Just like with plants, you can apply a seasonal framework to seafood. Mussels will fill more of their shell and be at their best during the cold winter months.
More Fresh Seafood Recipes For You:
- Lemon Orzo Shrimp Salad
- Honey Garlic-Glazed Shrimp and Broccoli
- Pan Seared Ahi Tuna with Crispy Rice
- Sheet Pan Chili Garlic Shrimp
- Baked Salmon with Parsley Garlic Crust
- Thai Sea Bass
- Baked Scallops with Citrus Ginger Sauce
BLACK MUSSELS WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATO AND SPICY SALAMI
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium white/yellow onion chopped
- ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes sliced small, then roughly chopped
- ¼ cup spicy soppressata a kind of sweet and spicy dry-cured salami, chopped
- 4 pounds black mussels rinsed and debearded
- ¼ cup beer dry white wine as substitute
- Chopped parsley for garnish
- Grilled bread for serving
- Saute the onion, sun-dried tomato and soppressata. Put the olive oil in a large pot that can later be covered, and turn the heat to medium. Combine the onion, sun-dried tomato and soppressata. Stir occasionally to cook evenly and to release the flavors, about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and somewhat translucent.
- Toss and serve. Put the cleaned mussels in the pot; cover and cook, shaking the pot occasionally, until mussels open, about 10 minutes. If they have not generated enough broth for you, add the beer/wine and cook, uncovered, another 2 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve with grilled crusty bread.
Photography by Adam Rahman