Mussels in Bacon-Mushroom Cream

Posted on Apr 6, 2012

Good Friday! And for those who observe Lent, I give you a terrific seafood recipe to…. oh, excuse me…

(What?… Really?… No bacon… At all?… Wow, thanks for the save. That would have been embarrassing. Whew.)

OK. Scratch that. As is my custom, I’ve included bacon in this recipe, and apparently that is not a seafood regardless of its present association with our bi-valve friends here, the mussels. So… you can leave out the bacon (still tasty)… OR , plan ahead this weekend for an easy, breezy menu on Monday night!

Seafood is good for you. And delicious. But, let’s face it, seafood is scary. In the kitchen, few foodstuffs intimidate like fresh seafood, especially molluscs – clams, oysters, mussels and the like. But the fun secret is that preparing them can be a super-simple one-pot meal. Take mussels for instance. These fun little shell-dwellers cook in about the same time as toast in one pot with a little flavorful liquid. Really. Couldn’t be simpler. Ask yourself this: “Can I boil water?” If the answer is yes, then you can make an incredibly delicious dish suitable for a casual dinner al fresco or a fancy-shmancy dinner party. And your guests will be SOOOO impressed because, remember, they are intimidated by seafood. Especially molluscs. And your wizardry with this one-pot wonder will astound them since they were up to this point certain that one could only get mussels like this in a fancy restaurant like Les Halles, which, btw, provided the inspiration for today’s recipe! See the story of our recent visit here. Only you, and all the rest of my legions of readers, will know your secret!

Download PDF



Mussels in Bacon Mushroom Cream

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 15 minutes | Servings: 2-4 servings | Difficulty: Easy

The start of many a delicious dinner!

1 bag (usually 2 lbs) fresh mussels
4 oz thick cut smoked bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 cup chopped mushrooms (½ inch pieces)
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary or thyme (no dried herbs in this one-just omit if you don’t have fresh)
1 cup white wine
¼ cup half & half
1 tbsp butter
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper


Scrub the mussels with a clean brush under cold running water, removing any remaining beard (the string-y stuff dangling near the hinge – just grab ahold and give it a tug). The good news is that most mussels you buy in those mesh bags are farmed, and they’ve been cleaned and de-bearded for the most part, so you just have to deal with the few that were missed. 

NOTE: Discard any mussels that don’t close when you handle them. If you have one that’s open, brush it and give it a minute-if it doesn’t close it’s shell, toss it-it’s either lazy or dead, and it’s not worth the trouble to find out which it is. Also, toss any mussels with broken shells.

Ready for the wine. The rest of the bottle is chilling, right?

In a large covered sauté pan, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until cooked through but not crispy (it’s gonna cook some more with the next ingredients). Drain off all but 2 tbsp of the rendered fat. Add the shallot and mushrooms and the spring of fresh rosemary or thyme (if you’re using it) and sauté over medium heat until the mushrooms are cooked and the shallot is translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

Ready for the mussels!

Add the wine and reduce by half (about 1-2 minutes). Add the half & half and butter, stirring to incorporate. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring the mixture back to a boil and add the mussels. Cover and steam until the shells open, about 4 minutes. 

NOTE: Discard any mussels that didn’t open, because they weren’t really alive when you cleaned them. They were just playing ‘alive’.

Dump the mussels and liquid into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish (yeah, the glass one) or any large shallow container that allows you to get at the broth with a hunk of crusty bread. Pull the shells apart and use the half with the mussel to scoop up some of the bacon-mushroom liqueur. Enjoy with the rest of the bottle of white wine (’cause that’s not gonna get any fresher, ya know) and a good crusty baguette or sourdough to sop up all that amazing sauce!

This is what happens when you run out of bread. Don't let this happen to you.

This will serve 2 people as a light dinner, or 4 people as an appetizer.