Serves four appetizer or two entree portions
- 2# Mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
- 1 small fresh bulb of fennel, julienne
- 1 roasted red bell pepper, cleaned, seeded and julienne
- 1 small yellow onion, julienne
- 1 Navel orange
- One 12 oz bottle of NB Belgian Dubbel
- 2-4 T Olive oil
- ¼ tsp saffron powder, or a pinch of saffron threads
- fresh Italian parsley and reserved fennel fronds for garnish
- nice loaf of crusty bread
Scrub the mussels under running cold water with a brush, then remove the small thread-like beards. Soak the mussels in cold, clean water as you continue the preparation. Peel, halve and slice thinly the onion. Remove the stalks from the fennel bulb, reserve some of the fronds for garnish. Clean the roasted red pepper of seeds, then slice thinly. Using a citrus zester, remove large strips of zest from half of the navel orange. The fennel, red peppers and orange zest can be combined into one container.
Heat a large sauce pot, about 4-6 qt capacity, over high heat. When hot, sweat the onion briefly in 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil for one to two minutes. Drain the mussels from the soaking water, then add to the pot over the onions. Stir lightly to combine, then pour in the bottle of Dubbel. Add the saffron, then close the lid of the pot to allow the mussels to steam open. Rocking the pot with the lid on once or twice gently will encourage more even cooking of the mussels. While the mussels cook, place the strainer over a large bowl. After about 3-4 minutes, or when the mussels have all opened, remove the pot from the heat, then carefully strain the mussels, reserving the liquid. Discard any mussels that refuse to open.
Pour the reserved liquid back into the pot and return to the stove. When the liquid returns to a boil, add the fennel, red pepper and orange zest, stirring to combine. Season with a few pinches of Kosher salt and pepper. While the broth simmers, divide the mussels evenly in large serving bowls. When the fennel is no longer crispy, the broth should be ready. Taste for seasoning, then spoon the vegetables over the mussels in each bowl. Stir the chopped fresh Italian parsley and fennel fronds to the broth, then spoon the broth evenly between all the bowls. Serve with chunks of crusty bread. The dish naturally pairs well with Belgian ales, especially dubbels and tripels, or perhaps a geuze.