For perfectly cooked mussels, we easily steam a big batch in a large roasting pan in the gentle heat of the oven.
SERVES 4 to 6 FAST
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Mussels are enjoyed all across the Mediterranean from Spain to Israel. We thought steaming would be a quick and easy way to enjoy mussels, as they come with their own built-in, briny-sweet broth. But they come in all different sizes, so they cook at different rates, especially when piled on top of each other in a pot. To get them to cook evenly, we opted to cook the mussels in a wide roasting pan in the oven so that the heat surrounded the mussels on all sides, leading to more even (and gentle) cooking than was possible on the stove. Even in a 500-degree oven, the mussels took just a few minutes longer and were plump and moist. With wine, thyme, and bay leaves as a base, the mussels’ liquid made a tasty broth. Discard any mussels with an unpleasant odor or with a cracked shell or a shell that won’t close. For information on debearding mussels, see here . Serve with crusty bread to dip into the broth.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in large roasting pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves, bring to boil, and cook until wine is slightly reduced, about 1 minute.
2. Stir in mussels and salt. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and transfer to oven. Cook until most mussels have opened (a few may remain closed), 15 to 18 minutes.
3. Remove pan from oven. Discard thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and any mussels that refuse to open. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, sprinkle with parsley, and toss to combine. Serve.
Oven-Steamed Mussels with Leeks and Pernod FAST
Omit pepper flakes and thyme sprigs. Add 1 pound leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly, to pan with garlic and cook until leeks are wilted, about 3 minutes. Substitute ½ cup Pernod and ¼ cup water for wine. After removing pan from oven in step 3, push mussels to sides of pan. Add ¼ cup crème fraîche and oil to center and whisk until combined. Substitute 2 tablespoons chives for parsley.
Making Oven-Steamed Mussels
1. COOK AROMATICS AND ADD WINE Cook oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in roasting pan until fragrant. Add wine, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves and cook until wine is slightly reduced.
2.ADD MUSSELS AND COVER Add mussels and salt. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and transfer to oven.
3.COOK UNTIL MUSSELS OPEN Cook until mussels have opened (a few may remain closed), about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove pan from oven.
4.FINISH BROTH Discard thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and any unopened mussels. Drizzle with remaining oil, sprinkle with parsley, and toss to combine before serving.