This is a pleasing, rustic, one-pan dish that makes a weekday dinner feel like a French party in the country. Have you been to a French party in the country? I have and they are no joke, my friends. Always bring a buddy. So, I was already mixing up a batch of no-knead bread when I came across this recipe. I thought it would be perfect on a rainy Summer night. It’s comfort food, for sure, but not as heavy or labor-intensive as a stew or a braise. In Maine, you need warming, reassuring foods all throughout the year. This in-the-oven technique is a way to cook mussels I had not tried, and it works quite well. You may need to give a stir halfway through the second five minutes, to be sure that the mussels are cooking evenly and opening. The bread toasts and browns on one side and soaks up/keeps in all the lovely wine and broth and fat from the olive oil and sausages. I used spicy sausages and added red pepper flakes because I like to live dangerously. There is a hint of sweetness from the fennel and onions – I love the way the vegetables kind of melt. The sky was pouring rain as I cooked and then when I set the skillet on the table the clouds parted and the sky showed patches of blue – so we opened up the patio doors to let in the evening breeze.
Mussels with Sausages, Onions, and Fennel
Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2 sweet or hot Italian sausages
- 1/4 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1/4 white onion, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Palmful of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 lb mussels, cleaned and debearded
- 3-4 slices thick, crusty bread
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Squeeze of lemon
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Puncture sausages with a fork. In a deep, oven-proof skillet brown sausages in olive oil. Add fennel, onions, garlic and red pepper flakes, salt and saute briefly. Add 1/2 cup wine, cover and simmer, about ten minutes. Add mussels and the rest of the wine to the pan; transfer pan to the oven and roast for five minutes. Arrange bread slices so that they cover the mussels and cook for another five minutes, or until all/most of the mussels are open. (Don’t eat those that didn’t!) Drizzle bread with a little olive oil, squeeze lemon over everything, serve with the rest of the wine.