Creamed Mussels on the Half Shell
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 20 MIN
- SERVINGS: 12
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 shallot, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 lemon, thickly sliced
- 10 thyme sprigs, plus 1/2 teaspoon minced thyme
- 5 whole peppercorns
- 1 1/2 pounds medium mussels (about 60), scrubbed and debearded
- 3 thick slices bacon, chopped
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium leek, white and tender green parts only, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 2/3 cup coarse dry bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- In a large saucepan, combine the wine with the shallot, lemon, thyme sprigs and peppercorns and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard any mussels that don't open. Pull the mussels out of their shells and discard half of each shell. Arrange the remaining shells on a baking sheet in 1 layer and place a mussel in each shell. Strain the broth into a glass measuring cup, leaving any grit behind.
- In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a dish and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet.
- Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in the skillet. Add the leek and cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the mussel broth and cook until syrupy, 15 minutes. Add the cream and simmer for a few minutes. Stir in the bacon and minced thyme; season with salt and pepper. Let cool. Top each mussel with a scant teaspoon of the leeks.
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter in a small skillet. Add the bread crumbs and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle the crumbs over the mussels and bake in the upper third of the oven for about 5 minutes, or until hot and bubbling.
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