Rose Wine-Steamed MusselsI consistently celebrate the fun, ease, and deliciousness of mussels -- I won’t tire of them. The “Rosé Wine-Steamed Mussels” and “Croûton Fries” (recipes below), from the July/August 2014 issue of Cuisine at Home, gave us petite, tender mussels that we ate with our hands.

Rosé Wine-Steamed Mussels
Cuisine at Home, July/August 2014
6 servings

Heat:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 fennel bulb (about 10 oz.), trimmed and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1/3 cup minced shallots
2 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic

Add:
1 bottle dry rosé wine (750 ml)
3 lbs. mussels, scrubbed and debearded

Off Heat, Swirl:
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and softened
1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
Salt and black pepper to taste
Chopped fennel fronds

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-low. Add fennel, shallots, and garlic; cook until softened, 5-7 minutes.

Add wine and increase heat to high; bring to a boil and reduce wine to 2 cups, about 5 minutes. (If wine measures less than 2 cups add more rose to equal 2 cups.)

Add mussels, cover, and cook, shaking pot occasionally, until mussels open, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that don’t open. Using a slotted spoon, divide mussels among six bowls.

Off heat, swirl butter into the broth until melted; stir in thyme and season with salt and pepper. Divide broth among bowls and garnish each serving with fennel fronds.

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Croûton Fries
Cuisine at Home, July/August 2014
6 servings

Combine:
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic

Heat:
1 cup olive oil, divided
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 Italian baguette, sliced into 3 x 3/4-inch sticks

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Combine salt, pepper, and garlic.

Heat 1/4 cup oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high until butter melts. Add a quarter of the bread sticks and sauté, turning often, until all sides are toasted.

Transfer croûton fries to prepared baking sheet to drain; season with 1/2 tsp. salt mixture, then transfer to oven to keep warm. Repeat procedure three more times with remaining oil, butter, salt mixture, and bread sticks.

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The first thing I noticed about this recipe is it asks to use a whole bottle of wine. In past recipes, I’d use a cup of wine here or there. I accepted the dare to use a whole bottle and was very pleased. The wine reduced marvelously and the final bowls of mussels were not at all boozy. The pronounced flavors, in fact, were the fennel and butter.

Now let’s talk about these dangerous “Croûton Fries.” I knew what I was getting into, here: frying sliced bread sticks in lots of olive oil and butter, to make toast. Wow. The recipe warns, “You won’t be able to stop,” and it’s totally true. How wonderful it all is.

PRICES:
Fennel Bulb = $2.93
Shallots (1/3 cup) = .79¢
2013 Sicilian Rosato = $13.00
Mussels (3 lbs.) = $11.62
Pugliese Sesame Batard/Baguette = $3.72

PREP TIMES: eat this meal after less than an hour of prep and cooking
TASTES:
fennel, butter, and sweet mussels, with perfectly crispy fried bread

I’m still buzzed about shellfish, so next time, I’ll cook the “Beer-Braised Chicken Wings with Clams and Chickpeas,” from the July 2014 issue of Food & Wine, along with the “German Potato Salad,” from PBS Food. Come back to my site next week to see another great meal.