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Posted on Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.

Mussels with Sausage and Fennel sates a seafood craving without breaking the bank

By Peggy Lampman


Mussels with Sausage and Fennel

Peggy Lampman | Contributor


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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 sauté 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 sauté 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.


My new web site has recently been launched (! I'm a real-time food writer and photographer posting daily feeds on my website and in the Food & Drink section of You may also e-mail me at


Peggy Lampman

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

You can get mussels at most area groceries that offer a stocked fresh fish case. In the past I've purchased them at Buschs, Hillers, Whole Foods, and Krogers (the one on Stadium). Of course Monahans in Kerrytown carries them. I'm sure I'm forgetting some other great stores but suffice it to say, Ann Arbor is well-stocked with mussels (but before you spend the petrol, give the seafood dept. a call to make sure they are in.) Peggy


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 11:32 p.m.

Can you get fresh mussels in Michigan? If so, where?