Mussels in Tomato Fennel Broth

I make alot of mussels. They are quick, healthy, yummy and my son loves them so it’s an easy and frequent choice in my household. The challenge is how to make them differently each time since I love variety in whatever I eat. I typically never look for recipes when it comes to Mussels but instead just try to get creative with whatever I have handy. Sometimes it’s bacon, sometimes chorizo, sometimes there’s a tomato broth and sometimes there isn’t. Just depends on what I’m in the mood for. People who know me know it’s all about my mood!

For the annual christmas get together at Divya’s with her extended family (roughly 25 people) I was asked to make sometime which wasn’t quite an appetizer but would preceed the chili rubbed short ribs (recipe on this blog). Having just had a party for 30 plus people at my house, inspiration was a little hard to come by. So I went to my fall back position – mussels. Plus Divya loves anything seafood!

I wanted the mussels to be really yummy and a little different. I love fennel, I love how it smells and how it tastes so I figured I would use fennel in the broth and ended up creating a recipe built around the fennel. It turned out really well. I made about 15lbs of mussels. Took me a while to clean those mussels.

– 5lbs mussels
– 1 chopped fennel
– 2 sliced carrots
– 3 cloves chopped garlic
– 1 cup chardonnay
– 1 cup chicken stock
– 14oz can crushed tomatoes
– 1 tablespoon oregano
– 1 tablespoon rosemary
– crushed chilies per taste
– salt and pepper to taste
– olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan (large enough to take all the mussels). Add the fennel and carrots. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the crushed chilies and garlic. After about 1 minute add the wine. After another minute add the stock. When it comes to a simmer, add the tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and turn down the heat. Cover and let simmer for atleast 20 minutes. I like to let it simmer for an hour but do it for less time if you are tight on time. The longer you simmer the better the flavor balance. Clean the mussels, discarding any open and broken ones. If a mussel is open, gently tap it on the kitchen counter. If the shell closes you can still use it because it’s still alive. Add the mussels to the broth and cover. Let it cook for about 3 minutes or until shells have opened. Be careful not to overcook. As soon as most of the shells open you are ready to serve. I like serving with crusty bread, like a french baguette. Enjoy!

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