There was a time when Mussels in White Sauce were all the buzz on where to find the ‘Best’ in the Philly region, with particular attention to those smaller joints sprinkled throughout the tightly woven streets of South Philadelphia, and then in the summer, on to the Jersey shore.
Among many, the ‘Best Mussels in White Sauce’ commonly meant, who made the tastiest garlicky, spicy, intoxicating scented liquor that cooked the mussels, that once simmered, were then served in big bowls alongside round, brown wicker baskets piled high with crusty Italian bread slices for ravenously dipping and soaking up these juices in between working ones way through the black, shiny, oval mollusks with big plump interiors.
An amazing feature of Italian style Mussels in White Sauce is how just a few simple ingredients combined together form such a complexity of flavors. It’s completely versatile too, for you can adjust as much garlic and hot pepper flakes as you like to scale the intensity up, or tone it down, you can add a specific amount of white wine, and sneak in a few glugs more before combining with the clam juice. Really, if you follow the basic ingredient format, practically anything you do, you can’t ruin it.
A fun meal to share around the table with friends and family most any season of the year, a little wine, and lots and lots of crusty Italian bread piled high for dipping and soaking up the garlicky, spicy, intoxicating scented liquor of full flavored juices, which after all, provides the real buzz in the flavor pleasure profile for most folks when it comes to cooking up a pot of the best Mussels in White Sauce.
- 5 pounds mussels
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 6-8 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 1-3 tablespoons red pepper flakes (more or less, to desired level of spiciness)
- 1/2 750 ml. bottle white wine
- 3- eight ounce jars clam juice
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
- 1 1/2 pounds fettuccine
- Clean mussels, remove side beards, rinse, keep iced and chilled until cooking time. Cook fettuccine to al dente in salted boiling water. On very low heat, add three tablespoons olive oil to a large sized pot with a fitted lid, sprinkle in the garlic and red pepper flakes, cook until garlic is softened, around 2-3 minutes. Pour in the white wine, raise temperature to medium high heat, cook wine in garlic mixture for three minutes, pour in clam juice, continuing cooking until mixture is boiling. Tumble in the mussels, stir throughout the pot mixing with the liquid then immediately cover with the lid. Give pot a good shake after a few minutes and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Remove lid, stir, if all of the mussels have opened, reduce heat to low and simmer another few minutes, if not, continue cooking for another few minutes before simmering. Line a large serving platter with cooked, drained fettuccine, top with mussels and sauce from the pot, serve straight away with lots of crusty bread for dipping.