Like a band's hit song performed during every concert, there are certain dishes that are always on a restaurant's menu. Case in point: Don Saunders' garlicky mussels at The Kenwood in Minneapolis. Shallots, white wine and cream are the base for steaming the mussels. Then a basil-garlic pistou (think pesto, minus the pine nuts and Parm) is swirled in at the end. Don't be tempted to skip the splash of Pernod, even if you're buying a bottle just for this recipe: The liqueur's smack of licorice is absolutely key.
Mussels in Pistou Broth
Recipe adapted from Don Saunders, The Kenwood, Minneapolis, MN
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
6 cups fresh basil leaves
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 large shallots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 pounds mussels, scrubbed, debearded and well rinsed
1 cup dry white wine
¾ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon anise-flavored liqueur (preferably Pernod)
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
Good bread for serving
1. Make the pistou: To a food processor, add the garlic, basil, and ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, 1 to 2 minutes.
2. To a large pot set over medium-high heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallots and cook until they are soft but not colored, about 2 minutes. Add the mussels, white wine and cream. Cover the pot and cook the mussels until they begin to open, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Uncover the pot and add the pistou, lemon juice, liqueur and salt, then stir to combine. Divide the mussels among 6 bowls and serve with bread on the side.