Steamed Mussels with White Wine and Garlic

I learned how to make steamed mussels while living in France. Marie, one of the people I lived with, took me aside one evening and said, “I am going to show you how to make mussels, ze French way. C’est easy!” As with all with French cooking, this dish depends on high quality ingredients–mussels, thyme, garlic, shallots, all need to be fragrant, flavorful, and fresh. The choice of white wine is up to you, but I used a crisp French blend, Domaine de Motrabech. We drank the remainder of the bottle with the mussels. Superb.


1 – 2 lb. live mussels, cleaned

1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1 shallot, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tbs. + 4 tbs. salted butter

1 pinch + 1 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

Juice from half of a lemon

1 tsp. fresh thyme

Half a bottle of dry white wine

Other half of the bottle for drinking, optional

Crusty baguette for dipping, optional


Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic, sauté until slightly softened. Add 1 tbs. butter and a pinch of salt, stir. Add half bottle of white wine, 1 tsp. salt, black pepper, and lemon juice. Pour mussels into pot, sprinkle on the thyme and toss to coat. Put lid on pot and steam until the mussels have opened, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove mussels to a large bowl, discarding any that did not open. Add remaining 4 tbs. butter into the pot and stir until melted. Pour all of the liquid over the mussels and serve immediately.

Enjoy right out the shell, and do try dipping some bread into that heavenly butter sauce. It is ze French way, non?