Fennel Mussels with Piquillo Rouille

Before Chris Kronner makes this dish, he forages mussels from the nearby coast. "You have to climb down a 75-foot rock face on a rickety ladder; it's intense," he says.

Plus: F&W's Fish and Seafood Cooking Guide

  • Active:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 10
KEY: Christmas, Dinner Party, New Year's Eve, French, Appetizers/starters, Healthy, Staff Favorites

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Ingredients

rouille
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fish stock or bottled clam broth
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • One 1/4-inch-thick slice of peasant bread, crust removed
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 jarred piquillo pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt
mussels
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 heads of fennel, cored and diced, plus 1/4 cup chopped fronds
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup Pernod or absinthe
  • 1 1/4 cups fish stock or bottled clam broth
  • 4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt

How to make this recipe

  1. Prepare the Mussels In a microwave*#150;safe bowl, heat 2 tablespoons of the fish stock at high power. Crumble in the saffron and let cool. In a large bowl, soften the bread in the remaining 1/4 cup of fish stock.
  2. Prepare the Mussels In a food processor, puree the soaked bread, egg yolk, piquillo, garlic and lemon juice until smooth. With the machine on, slowly pour in 1/4 cup of the oil and the saffron fish stock. Slowly pour in the remaining 1/4 cup of oil. Season with cayenne and salt.
  3. Prepare the Mussels In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the diced fennel, onion and garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, 7 minutes. Add the red pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Add the Pernod and boil over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the fish stock and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook, shaking the pot, until they open, 5 minutes. Pile the mussels in a bowl; discard any that don't open. Stir the butter into the broth, add the fennel fronds and parsley; season with salt. Pour the broth over the mussels and serve with the rouille.

Serve With

Grilled, buttered bread.

Suggested Pairing

Andrew Mariani serves a crisp California Chardonnay with the mussels and spicy rouille because the dish plays up the wine's toasty, smoky flavors.

Contributed By Photo © Cedric Angeles Published April 2010

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