Serves 4 as an appetizer
You can serve this fun yet elegant dish in individual portions, piling the mussels high on each plate with a ladle. Make sure you distribute the sauce evenly and have plenty of grilled bread on the table, as well as some bowls to collect the shells. Even without the saffron, this is a delicious dish, but the saffron adds a luxuriousness that I love. This recipe is easily scaled up; plan on a pound of mussels per person for a first course, 1½ to 2 pounds for an entrée.
- 1 cup chicken stock (recipe)
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, cored, and thinly sliced lengthwise, ¼ cup chopped tender fronds reserved
- 1 cup dry white wine
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded if necessary
- ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Crusty country bread, for serving
In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock to a bare simmer. Add the saffron, and let steep 5 minutes. Keep hot.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and fennel. Cook and stir until wilted, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the white wine, salt, and red pepper flakes. Simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the mussels and hot stock. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook about 3 to 4 minutes, until the mussels are done; discard any that haven’t opened. Stir in the parsley and reserved chopped fennel fronds, stir, and serve with bread.