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French Mussels

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A French dinner doesn’t have to be a complicated affair. In fact, this dish is so quick and easy you could even indulge on a Wednesday night. But, you might want to save this restaurant quality dish for celebrating the weekend!

Don’t be intimidated by mussels if you’ve never prepared them. A few simple prep tips, and you’ll be putting these on menu rotation at home.

Farmed mussels are one of the most sustainable seafood you can buy, and they improve the ocean’s water quality. Mussel aquaculture is zero-input, meaning they require no food or fertilizer, making them an inexpensive choice. On average, a two pound bag of mussels sells for around $10.

When purchasing mussels, look for bags that are stored on top of fresh ice, not floating in water. Inspect the mussels through the net bag, the shells should be whole and closed. As with any seafood, if there is any off putting odor, leave them at the store. By law, the bag should also contain a harvest tag to tell you where they are from and the date they were harvested. Keep in mind, mussels can live outside of the water for about three weeks.

When you get home from the market, put the bag of mussels in a bowl, cover with a damp towel, and store in the coldest part of your refrigerator. They will be fine to store for a few days.

Right before you are ready to cook your mussels, remove from the refrigerator, open the bag and place in the bowl. The only preparation is to remove the “beard”. The beard, also called the byssus, is what holds the mussel to a solid surface. In farmed mussels, this is how they attach to the rope, which is how they are grown. The beard fibers are somewhat elastic. Simply pull at the beard with your fingers toward the hinge, and it will come out (you are not opening the shell, just pulling out the beard). Place the de-bearded mussels in a colander, and give them a quick rinse with cold water.

Discard any mussels which have broken shells. Mussels which are slightly open may still be alive, therefore ok. If any shells don’t open up completely after cooking, you will want to toss them. An unopened shell means the mussel is dead, and you don’t want to eat it.

Some sources will tell you to soak the mussels to remove grit, but with farmed mussels, this step isn’t necessary. Farmed mussels grow in the upper part of the water column attached to ropes, and are not buried in the sand or silt.

To cook, mussels require a cooking liquid, and a flavor base of vegetables and herbs. The fun part of cooking mussels, is you can vary these ingredients to come up with your own favorite flavor combinations. This recipe with French Mussels, is just a jumping off point for your mussel adventures. Now that your armed with the basics, you’re ready to make a quick, elegant dinner. Just add a crusty baguette and dive in.

If you want to try another recipe for steamed mussels in a more adventurous sauce, try Mussels in a Broth of Smoked Tomatoes & Coconut Milk, https://sassystable.com/mussels-in-a-broth-of-smoked-tomatoes-and-coconut-milk/

French Mussels

Recipe by Sassy's TableCourse: SeafoodDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



An elegant, quick dinner, that will elevate your in home dining experience, any night of the week. Just add a crusty baguette and a glass of your favorite wine. Bon Appetit.


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 medium shallots, finely chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 cup of dry white wine

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons tarragon, chopped (optional)

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 pounds fresh mussels, debearded

  • Kosher salt

  • Garnish with:
  • 12 stems fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

  • Serve with:
  • crusty baguette, for serving


  • In a large Dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallots and cook for about 3 minutes to soften; add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the wine, cream, butter, and tarragon (if using). Allow butter to melt and liquids to heat up. Taste the broth, and season with salt.
  • Add the mussels to the pot, and stir to combine with broth. Cover the pot and cook for about 8-10 minutes. Uncover and check to see if the mussels have opened. If not, recover and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. (Remember to discard and mussels that do not open).
  • Divide mussels and broth into bowls. Garnish with parsley and serve with crusty bread.


  • This recipe allows for a lot of customizing. I usually use the white wine I have on hand, a Pinot Grigio or Vihno Verde. As for the herbs, you can use parsley or the addition of tarragon. When I last made this dish, I didn’t have tarragon. My parsley (which I neglected to cut before I started cooking) was in the garden and it was thunder storming, so I served it sans-parsley! And it was still scrumptious.
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  1. Pingback: Mussels in a broth of Smoked Tomatoes and Coconut Milk | Sassy's Table

  2. These sounds delicious! I had no idea about the beard that was cool to learn.

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