Mussels and Clams with Smoked Bacon and Fennel in White Wine Cream Sauce

Ok so, I made this WordPress blog about a week ago, pimped it out for a bit, then haven’t posted since! I promise I have a legitimate excuse, which most of you already know about…if not, ask my new Fiancé (who I’m affectionately calling my ‘Feyoncé). The good news is… I still managed to make the culinary rounds in Charleston, do a bit of cooking, drink a fair amount of bourbon, and Oxford comma.  All of which I plan to blog about this week! (Ok, maybe not the Oxford comma)

Let’s start tonight’s post with an easy recipe, shall we?  I absolutely love recipes like these – I call them ‘party trick’ recipes because they take very little time to prepare, feed 4-6 people and tastes like you’ve slaved away in the kitchen for hours.  Make sure to grab a French baguette (or two) –  your guests will use it to soak up every drop of this creamy, smoky white wine sauce.


Prep Time: 15-20 minutes (or less if your mussels and clams are already cleaned)

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Serving Size: Feeds 4-6 people

Ingredients

2 Slices of thick-cut smoked bacon (I smoke my own, but suggest Benton’s Bacon)
1.5 Pounds of cleaned/debearded mussels
1.5 Pounds of any cleaned clams in season
1/2 Cup of heavy whipping cream
1 Cup of a dry white wine
5 Crushed garlic cloves
1 Cup chopped Vidalia onion
1 Cup chopped Fennel bulb
1/4 Cup of chopped celery
1/2 cup of chopped parsley
1 Lemon

Instructions

  1. Cut the smoked bacon into one inch pieces.
  2. In a large, cast iron dutch oven or stew pot on medium-high heat, add the sliced bacon.
  3. When the bacon is golden brown and has rendered its fat, add the chopped Vidalia onions and let it caramelize in the bacon fat.  This will be the source of the sweetness in your cream sauce.
  4. Once the onions have caramelized, add the butter, crushed garlic, chopped fennel and celery.  Stir all the ingredients together. 
  5. Once the remaining chopped vegetables have softened, you should see some bits of bacon and veggies stuck to the bottom of the pan (food nerds: this is called the “fond”) — now its time to deglaze!
  6. Slowly add the dry white wine to the veggies and notice you are easily able to scrape those bits of goodness of the bottom with a wooden spoon.
  7. Add the cleaned mussels, clams, heavy cream and half of the parsley (1/4 cup) to the pot and stir. This should be smelling pretty incredible now.add cream mussels clams
  8. Turn the heat on medium-low and cover the pot for about 5 minutes. Check every 2 minutes or so to see if the clams and mussels have opened.
  9. When done, the mussels and clams should have given up their delicious liquor (juices) to your white wine, cream sauce and look like the picture below:opened clams and mussels in white wine cream sauce
  10. Thats it! Turn off the stove and move the pot off the heat. Add the remaining parsley for garnish. Serving suggestions below.

For a wow factor, I like serving the entire enameled dutch oven on a large cutting board at the table with slices of toasted, crusty, buttered French baguette.  Finish it off by squeezing a fresh lemon into the steaming hot mixture of smokey, creamy, garlicky goodness.

Pro tip: When I toast the baguette slices, I top with butter and grated parmesan cheese before I put it into the oven.  If you’re short on time, toast the whole baguette, cut in half, and have your guests tear off pieces for their dipping pleasure.

Presentation of mussels and clams served in white wine sauce

If you don’t want everyone double dipping into your dutch oven (trust me, they will), you could do what we did and serve them in wide bowls. Give each guest a little of everything – the caramelized veggies, smoked bacon, shellfish, and of course… plenty of that white wine cream sauce you worked soooooo hard on, winkyface.

Mussels on the plate

My last serving suggestion is a little fancier but it looks great if you’re trying to feed more than 6 people, since of course each guest will get a smaller serving.  Ladle your white wine cream mixture on the bottom of a deep plate or shallow, wide bowl.  Place a toasted slice of parmesan-butter baguette on top, making sure it is not completely submerged and let it soak up some of that smokey, creamy goodness. Place 3-4 mussels and clams around each baguette and serve.  Garnish with more parsley and a wedge of lemon, if you wish.

Mussels on baguette

Did I mention I shot this entire recipe using my iPhone 6?  Let me know what you think!

MB

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2 Comments

  1. david boyd
    September 28, 2015
    Reply

    love your posts

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