Mussels meuniere is a bit of a misnomer. A meuniere is “a miller’s wife” in French. Applied to food, it’s classically used as a term for a method of cooking fish dredged in flour and cooked in butter and white wine — the way the miller’s wife would do. Of course, there is no flour in mussels meuniere. So why the name? Who knows? The result, on the other hand, is wonderful — a classic French bistro dish that’s fantastic as a starter or even a whole meal, served with warm crusty bread.
Along with being a beautiful and impressive dish to serve guests, mussels meuniere is quick, easy, inexpensive and surprisingly filling (especially if you serve it with some fresh crusty bread). The only tips I can offer are to make sure to check out each and every mussel before cooking and discard those that have broken shells or are open and won’t close when you tap them lightly. And when they’re steamed, toss any that don’t open during cooking.
I have some more elaborate recipes for mussels that I’ll share one day, but this is the basic, can’t fail version that every mussel lover should know. It’s best served with a cold, crisp, dry white wine like a sauvignon blanc or a pinot grigio.
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 1 cup chopped shallots
- 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Juice and zest from 1 lemon
- 2-3 springs fresh thyme
- 1 cup seafood stock (or water)
- 2-3 Lbs. mussels, rinsed and debearded
- Heat the oil and butter in a stock pot or a 6-quart (large) saute pan.
- Add the shallots and saute over medium heat until they're soft and translucent, about 5 mins.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add in the wine, thyme, lemon juice and zest and reduce by half.
- Add the stock or water and bring to a boil.
- Add the mussels, stir once, then cover and cook for about six minutes, or until all the mussels are open.
- Serve immediately.