Mussels in Garlic Fennel Cream

Adapted from Cook at Home by Anna & Michael Olson
Yield: 2 servings

30 mussels
1 tbsp + 1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup fennel, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 sprigs fresh tarragon (I used basil and parsley instead)
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup whipping cream
juice of half a lemon
coarse salt and ground black pepper, to taste

  1. To purchase mussels, select ones that are alive, that is, with a closed shell. The smell should be appealing and the shell should be intact.
  2. To clean mussels, remove the "beard" and rinse 2 or 3 times in cold water, tossing with your hands until the water runs clear.
  3. To store mussels before serving, place them in a colander on a plate in the fridge and cover with a damp tea towel.
  4. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  5. Add onion and fennel and saute for 3 minutes.
  6. Add garlic and tarragon (or other herbs) and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add the mussels and stir to coat.
  8. Pour in white wine and bring up to a simmer.
  9. Add cream. Cover the pot and cook until all mussels have opened, shaking pot occasionally, about 3 minutes.
  10. Spoon mussels into a serving bowl.
  11. Boil the cooking liquid until reduced to desired consistency.
  12. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the lemon juice into the liquid and season with salt and pepper.
  13. Pour cream and vegetables over the mussels.
  14. Serve with crusty bread or pasta.