This is one of those almost miracle dishes: it is ready in 10 minutes, it is quite in-expensive, it is full of flavor and texture and very gratifying, and all of my grandchildren love it. The brininess of the sea will come forth with the underlying garlic, lemon, and olive oil, the flavors all tied together by bread crumbs, then captured in the opening shells of the sweet mollusk.
But one thing is required of you in order for this miracle to happen. The mussels you buy must be absolutely the freshest; otherwise, turn the page and go to another recipe.
To enjoy this dish best, you must serve it piping hot in hot bowls, because the shells cool quickly. Grilled country bread and spoons will help scoop up every last drop.
If you have some left over, remove mussel meat from the shell and return it to the sauce to make a great condiment for a plate of pasta the next day.
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil for cooking and 2 tablespoons for finishing
- 4 fat cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- ½ large lemon, cut into very thin half-moon slices (3/4 cup)
- 2 medium onions, peeled and cut into thin half-moon slices (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 pounds mussels, rinsed and scrubbed
- 1 cup white wine
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
- 6 tablespoons chopped parsley
Pour the 1/2 cup of olive oil into the big pan, toss in the garlic, and set over medium-high heat. After 2 or 3 minutes, when the garlic is sizzling nicely, drop in the lemon slices, raise the heat to high, and cook stirring, for a minute or so until the lemon is sizzling and melting into the oil and the garlic is just starting to turn golden.
Toss in the onion slices, sprinkle on 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring and shaking the pan for 2 to 3 minutes or so, until wilted.
Dump in all the mussels and immediately begin tossing them in the hot oil, lemon and onion, for a half a minute or so.
Cover the pot and cook for a minute, shaking it often; uncover and pour in the wine, toss the mussels; add another 1/4 teaspoon salt and grinds of pepper, toss the mussels well and cover. Cook two minutes or so, until most of the mussels are opening and are still plump. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over all and toss well, mixing the crumbs with the sauce; then toss the mussels with the parsley.
Finally, turn off the heat and drizzle the 2 tablespoons of olive oil all over and toss, coating the mussels with the hot sauce. Serve right away, in hot bowls, ladling some of the brodetto over each portion of mussels.