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Serves : 8 FIRST-COURSE SERVINGS

How to Make It

Step 1    

In a large saucepan, combine the wine and shallots and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook over high heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mussels to a bowl as they are done. Let cool slightly.

Step 2    

Remove the mussels from their shells and transfer to a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil to the mussels and toss to coat. Sort through the mussel shells and keep the nicest shell from each pair; discard the rest.

Step 3    

Grind the fennel seeds in a spice grinder or mortar. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the chopped fennel and cook over high heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the Pernod, tilt the pan and carefully ignite the Pernod with a long match. When the flames die down, remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature. Gradually whisk in the butter, ground fennel seeds, lemon juice and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.

Step 4    

Preheat the broiler. Place 1 mussel in each shell and set the mussels on a rimmed baking sheet. Top each mussel with 1/2 teaspoon of the fennel butter. Broil about 6 inches from the heat for 1 minute, just until the mussels sizzle. Garnish each with a small fennel sprig and serve immediately.

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