Mussels in a Saffron-Citrus Cream Sauce

San Francisco chef Mourad Lahlou favors Mediterranean mussels, which he sources from the Pacific Northwest. “They’re plump and juicy, and they don’t toughen up as much as other varieties when you cook them,” he says. He serves the mussels in a cream sauce perfumed with saffron and lemon and orange zests.

Slideshow: Quick Fish Recipes

Recipe from Food & Wine Chefs' Easy Weeknight Dinners.
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  • Servings: 4 to 6

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  • 1 1/4 cups Riesling
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 4 pounds mussels, scrubbed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Grilled bread, for serving

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large, wide saucepan, combine the wine, thyme and garlic with 1 1/4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook over moderately high heat, shaking the pan a few times, until the mussels open, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a large bowl. Discard any mussels that do not open.

  2. Pour the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a large heatproof measuring cup. Wash the pan and pour in the cooking 
liquid, leaving behind any grit. Boil the cooking liquid until reduced 
to 1 1/2 cups, about 10 minutes.

  3. Add the cream, citrus zests and saffron and bring to a boil. Reduce 
the heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the butter until melted, then stir in the mussels until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and serve with grilled bread.

Photo © Fredrika Stjärne

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