This is one of those recipes that I am sure you will cook again and again. It takes just minutes and when you set the mussels on the table, steaming and aromatic, they beckon the whole brood. Give everyone a warm soup bowl, put a ladle in the pan to scoop out the shellfish and luscious sauce, and set a basketful of grilled country bread in the middle. Nothing could be better.
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- 1 or 2 onions, in ¼-inch slices (2 cups sliced)
- 4 bay leaves, preferably fresh
- ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon peperoncino or to taste
- 3 pounds mussels, scrubbed, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup white wine
- ¼ to ½ cup dry bread crumbs or as needed
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Pour the olive oil in the saucepan, drop in the crushed garlic and set over medium heat. When the garlic is fragrant and sizzling, stir in the onion slices, bay leaves, salt and peperoncino.
Cook for a couple of minutes, tossing and stirring, just until the onions begin to wilt but still have some crunch. Pour in the wine and bring to a boil. Immediately dump all the mussels into the pan, tumble them over quickly, cover tightly, and turn the heat up. Steam the mussels for 3 minutes, frequently shaking the covered pan, then toss them over, with a wire spider or wide slotted spoon. If the mussel shells have already opened (or almost all are open) leave the pan uncovered—otherwise, replace the cover and steam a bit longer.
As soon as the mussels have steamed open, sprinkle ¼ cup bread crumbs all over the pan. Quickly tumble the mussels over and over, still on high heat, so their liquor and the crumbs fall into the bubbling pan juices and create a sauce. (If the pan sauce is still thin after a minute of bubbling, sprinkle in more bread crumbs.
Finally, drizzle 2 more tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle the chopped parsley on top and toss briefly to distribute the seasonings. Turn off the heat, set the pan in the center of the table and let everyone scoop mussels and sauce into their own warm soup bowls. (And remember to put out extra bowls for the shells.)