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Vermouth Mussels

July 4, 2017

By Kath Dedon


We had Vermouth Mussels last night and I just don’t know why I don’t buy mussels more often! They were so good, and they’re really simple to prepare.

I chose Deb Perelman’s recipe in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Her recipe is “Vermouth Mussels with Tarragon Oven Fries”. Her method of making the oven fries sounds like perfection. (And her photos of the fries are mouth-watering.) As much as I love potatoes, I decided to skip them last night and just make the mussels to serve with a salad.

The secret to great mussels is to get them fresh from a reliable seafood vendor and to clean them just before cooking. If you search the Internet, you’ll find a lot of different ways to clean the mussels. I went with Deb’s method.  It was simple and worked fine. It involved a 10 – 15 minute soak in cold water. Then I scrubbed them and pulled the beards off. Ready to go!

As Deb says, two pounds of mussels will serve 2 – 4 people. If served with the oven fries or some other hearty side dish, two pounds would serve 4. Served alone, with just a salad, it was a wonderful dinner for 2! Bread would have been good to dip in the flavorful broth. (Truth be told, we may have used mussel shells to sip some of the broth.)


Vermouth Mussels on the deck

Mussels, salad and chardonnay on the deck



Vermouth Mussels

(Adapted from Deb Perelman’s recipe in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)


(print the recipe)


Serves 2 – 4


2 pounds mussels

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup minced shallots or minced white onion (I used shallots.)

½ cup dry white vermouth

2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon


  1. Clean the mussels. Put them in a large pot and cover with cold water. Let them sit for 10 – 15 minutes. Scrub each one under running water with a brush and remove any “beards”. Pull the beard towards the hinge to remove. (Deb says pulling in the other direction could prematurely kill the mussel. So pull toward the hinge.) Put the mussels in a large bowl or colander as you clean them.
  2. Quickly wash out the large pot and put it on the stove. Add the butter, shallots, and vermouth. Bring to a boil.

Butter, shallots, Vermouth


3. Put the mussels in the pot. Cover and boil for about 3 minutes. Shake the pan a few times during this boil.

4. Open the pot and use tongs to remove the mussels that are open. Put them in bowls. Continue to boil the mussels, removing them as they open. (All but 4 of my mussels opened. Toss those that do not open.)

Remove mussels as they open


5. Bring the broth to a full boil and boil for about 1 minute. Ladle the broth over the mussels, garnish with the tarragon and serve. (Ladle it instead of pouring just in case there is any sand on the bottom.)



Empty shells

Mussels shells


Mussels - Copy


2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 5, 2017 6:24 am

    Kath, I admire your discipline. I’d of had to have a good loaf of sourdough to go with that. Looks great! We have lovely Baltic blue mussels here, they are harvested in the winter. I’ve pinned this one and plan to have it in December when the blue mussels come in.

    • July 5, 2017 6:56 am

      Sourdough would be terrific with this and I’m sure it would be extra-special with your local mussels!

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