On Sunday night, I made Greg’s favorite, mussels. I have to admit I am not the biggest fan of mussels but I love mopping of the juices of the stew with a fresh baguette or some linguine. I picked up a few pounds from Maine on sale at Whole Foods for $4.99. I’ve been dying to try them using fennel steamed with Pernod—a french absinthe flavored with star anise and other herbs. The fennel made the whole kitchen smell of black licorice. On a cold winter night mussels are a wonderful and inexpensive feast. Cheers!
p.s. I had leftover tomatoes so I made a similar sauce tonight. Used onions instead of fennel, fennel seed, smashed garlic, pernod, tarragon, and added olives. Seared chicken breasts on the bone in my cast iron pan and then added the ingredients for the sauce into the pan and finished in the oven. Perfect tonight for dinner (monday night). Greg loved it.
Fennel-Steamed Mussels Provencal
15 minutes (depending on cleaning time)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 fennel bulb (about 1 pound), trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1/2 cup Pernod or Ricard (or 4 star anise)
1 cup chopped tomatoes, if desired (canned are fine, drained first)
1 sprig tarragon, if desired
At least 4 pounds large mussels, well washed
1. Place the oil in a large pot and turn the heat to medium; 1 minute later, add the garlic, fennel, fennel seeds, liqueur, and tomatoes and tarragon if you’re using them. Bring to a boil, cook for about 1 minute. Add the mussels, cover the pot, and turn the heat to high.
2. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally, until the mussels open, 5 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the mussels and fennel to a serving bowl, then strain any liquid over them and serve.
Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman, nytimes.com.