Mussels with Sausage and Fennel sates a seafood craving without breaking the bank
Peggy Lampman | Contributor
I must have some sort of vitamin deficiency that is abundant in shellfish. Or perhaps it's an astrology thing — born in July, my sign is the crab. Whatever the reason, I've craved shellfish since first memory.
Mussels are a great way to sate these cravings without breaking the bank. They are also a cinch to make. When fresh, all it takes to pry their shells open is a simmering brew. Take care not to overcook them; they shrivel into tough balls with the texture and chew of rubber bands.
The sausage used in this recipe has a great deal to do with the resulting flavor profile of the mussel dish. Generally I select a freshly-made sausage; you'd be surprised how many groceries and charcuteries around town make their own sausage. Chorizo is my favorite, but with this recipe I used a lean turkey sausage.
It is absolutely essential to serve this with either a freshly baked baguette or pasta, for sopping up the yummy sauce.
Time: 25 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 4-6 appetizer servings (4 main course servings if served over pasta)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound uncooked sausage,: if in links, remove from casing
1 large fennel bulb,cored and thinly sliced (reserve leafy fennel fronds for garnish)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, optional
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups dry white wine
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed (discard any that will not close)
1. In a large sautÃ© pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and break up with a fork.
2. When the sausage is browned, stir in the garlic, fennel seeds and sliced fennel and sautÃ© an additional 3-5 minutes. or until the fennel is just transparent and slightly limp.
3. Add the wine and tomatoes and let simmer briskly for 5 minutes.
4. Add the mussels to the pan. Cover and cook until the mussels open (1-4 minutes). Spoon mussels and broth into serving bowls, discarding any that did not open. Sprinkle with reserved fennel fronds and serve.
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