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Mussels in White Sauce

Mussels in White Sauce

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. 

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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.

Mussels in White Sauce
Yields 6
Recipe may be halved or quartered
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Total Time
45 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 5 pounds mussels
  2. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 6-8 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  4. 1-3 tablespoons red pepper flakes (more or less, to desired level of spiciness)
  5. 1/2 750 ml. bottle white wine
  6. 3- eight ounce jars clam juice
  7. 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
  8. 1 1/2 pounds fettuccine
Instructions
  1. 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.
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12 Comments

  1. mary hirsch
    Posted May 23, 2016 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Ok, now I am genuinely homesick for Sanary-sur-Mer, my hangout in France where I haven’t been in the past 6 years. Every Sunday I would join friends at this little beach dive on the coast of the Mediterranean for mussels. At the time I didn’t realize how fleeting those moments would be. But, I CAN go to our local Butcher’s Block which brings in mussels from faraway places and pick up some.. This would be a new way for me to eat mussels, Peggy. Clam sauce and fettuccine. YES.

    • Posted May 24, 2016 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Hi Mary! Thank You, your hangout at Sanary-sur-Mer sounds dazzling, even as a beach dive! You’ve so many grand experiences, an admirable trait. Whether savoring mussels or clams on pasta with white sauce one cannot go wrong!

  2. Posted May 23, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Delicious! In Spain, they eat them steamed, with lemon and bread, of course. When I prepare them, the only difference I have is in that I add a can of fire roasted tomatoes and then a generous pat of butter, just before serving. I haven’t served it with pasta before; it takes it from an appetizer to a meal in a second. Great idea, Peggy!
    Kelly recently posted…Lovely Reads #2My Profile

    • Posted May 24, 2016 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Hi Kelly, steamed mussels with lemon and bread are delicious too, and so does your version sound with the fire roasted tomatoes and added butter! I also prepare a red sauce version commonly served with the mussels and clams another combination I love too. In some of the Italian restaurants in South Philly you would get just big buckets of mussels with bread, others, the pasta came along, either way, so long as the mussels are good and plump and seasoned well, they are among my favorites! Thanks much!

  3. Posted May 24, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Hi Peggy, my husband and I tried to duplicate something like this last year, was not quite as tasty as we hoped. I can see now we missed the clam juice and should of added more garlic. Looks amazing, this is the perfect meal or appetizer.
    cheri recently posted…The Elements of Pizza and My Cooking Experience in a Real Wood Fire Brick OvenMy Profile

    • Posted May 25, 2016 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      Hi Cheri, hope you had smooth travels to Oregon and your Pizza adventure sounded so much fun! Yes, for the Italian style mussels I think you really need the clam juice, and I love lots of garlic and red pepper flakes, they really heighten the flavors of the broth. Some sort of base always enhances mussels, I think, even Asian style when using beer or wine, then fishing with some red curry paste and coconut milk. Enjoy if you give these a try over the summer! Happy Trails!

  4. Joanne C.
    Posted May 25, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Hi Peg, this looks so mouth watering and also reminds me how I can’t wait to get down to Sea Isle, Mussel heaven, and lobster, crab, you get my ‘drift’. Bring on the summer.

    • Posted May 25, 2016 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Hi Joanne, Thanks so much, I do get your ‘drift’- wishing you lots of delicious seafood in Sea Isle and many happy meals and memories ahead.

  5. TheKitchenLioness
    Posted May 29, 2016 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    Dear Peggy, have not made mussels in a while but will remedy that situation before the weather heats up too much around here. Believe it or not, the kids love to eat mussels and I shall give your lovely recipe with fettucine and white sauce a try – I am sure they will really enjoy this dish.
    Beautiful presentation and lovely recipe, dear friend!
    Wishing you and your family a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!
    Andrea
    P.S.: Thank you very much for your mail the other day – I truly appreciated your honest input! I will write back as soon as I have a quiet moment around here.

    • Posted May 30, 2016 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      Dear Andrea, Thanks so much, I suspect you and your children will love these mussels, the key in this style preparation, I think, is actually using the clam juice in the preparation. I’ve been so worried about not hearing back from you or wondering if you even got my email!!! Happy you stopped by via comment so at least I know you got my message, and look forward to hearing from you soon. Take care, see you at The Kitchen Lioness.

  6. Posted May 30, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    OMG! Love mussels. Looks so delicious! My grandma (before she passed ) used to love them and would easily eat that whole pot full!
    Phil recently posted…Moist Balls! I don’t think anybody saw that coming!My Profile

    • Posted May 30, 2016 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      Hi Phil, Thanks so much. Yep, mussels are that sort of food folks like to eat lots of filling up large sized bowls to be sure. See you soon.

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  • Hi, I'm Peggy. Welcome to our Shared Table at Spiced Peach Blog!
    Subscribe here for my fresh, seasonal recipes with an international twist.