Clams and Mussels in Garlic Butter White Wine Sauce will take you straight to the beach. The light, yet extremely flavorful broth can’t be beat.
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When I moved to Oklahoma, it was culture shock for a number of reasons; one of the biggest was lack of access to fresh seafood. For the first year I refused to eat any seafood. Eventually I tested out the waters with the vacuum-sealed salmon, shrimp and cod at Sam’s Club. All of it was delicious, but I still wouldn’t eat seafood at local restaurants.
Thanks to my friends Vance & Lori, I discovered Bodean Seafood in Tulsa. They fly their seafood in twice daily, so it is extremely fresh. My first visit was to the restaurant, and I fell in love. They have a market next door, where you can buy the same fresh seafood. They also have frozen seafood, deli products, freshly baked breads, dry pasta, condiments, and sauces. I typically only get the fresh seafood, but occasionally I’ll branch out and buy some other products. Yes, the market is a little pricey, but I don’t mind paying for quality.
I don’t eat clams and mussels often, and I’ve never cooked them. But after seeing the delicious grilled clams a friend made, I decided I wanted to try them. Once I got to Bodean I started to rethink my idea, and asked the fish monger for help. That’s what I really like about specialty stores. They know their stuff, and they’re ready and willing to help with making decisions and recommending cooking methods.
The fish monger talked me up and convinced me that I would have no trouble. So I put on my adventurous cap, and made Clams and Mussels in Garlic Butter Wine Sauce.
He was right. Clams and mussels are ridiculously easy to cook. You do need to keep an eye on them, and remove them from the liquid as soon as they open so they don’t get rubbery. But as long as you do that, they’ll be perfect every time.
MAKE SURE YOUR CLAMS AND MUSSELS ARE SAFE TO EAT!
Clams and mussels are freshest and safest when they start completely closed. Sometimes you will find a shell that is partially open, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad. The two best ways to test the shells are:
- Manually close the shell with 2 fingers, hold for a second, and let go
- Shock the shell by running it under cold water
If the shells close, they are good to go. If they remain open, they are dead and need to be tossed. The fish mongers often give me extra mussels, especially if a lot are partially open. That way I end up with the amount I really need.
The next most important step is to thoroughly rinse and drain the clams and mussels, to wash away any sand or dirt particles
The first time I made Clams and Mussels in Garlic Butter Wine Sauce I thought I went way overboard with the amount of both the clams and mussels. However, there’s only a small amount of meat inside each shell, so it was just enough.
HOW TO COOK CLAMS AND MUSSELS IN GARLIC BUTTER WINE SAUCE
I’ve made Clams and Mussels in Garlic Butter Wine Sauce many times, and each time I tweak the broth just a little bit. Sure, you can steam the clams and mussels in just white wine, but that would be boring. Besides, the more flavor you add, the more flavor you get in the end
- Butter: Until recently, I used Smart Balance spread, because that’s usually what I have in the house. When I made Clams and Mussels in Garlic Butter Wine Sauce the other day I had just bought real butter, and used it instead. Man, I have been missing out! Butter has a greater depth of flavor, and adds a silky texture to the broth
- Red Pepper Flakes: I love red pepper flakes, because it’s easy to control the amount, and therefore the level of spice.
- White Wine: I use a crisp white wine. The type of white wine is up to you, but make sure it’s something that you like to drink. The clams and mussels will soak up the flavor, so if you don’t like the wine, you won’t like the dish.
- Avocado Oil: I recently discovered avocado oil, and I am now a huge fan. It has a buttery, silky texture and flavor, and a very high smoke point. Extra virgin olive oil is a very good substitute.
BEST WAYS TO SERVE CLAMS AND MUSSELS IN GARLIC BUTTER WINE SAUCE
If you want to eat Clams and Mussels in Garlic Butter Wine Sauce as an appetizer or light meal, eat them as-is, on their own.
For a complete meal, add any spaghetti-type pasta. When I do that, I use Bucatini. I love the thicker cut, and the hole in the middle soaks up the beautiful sauce.
Another great option is to soak up with delicious broth with thick-cut, crusty bread. French or Sourdough bread would be perfect.
When I want to make Clams and Mussels in Garlic Butter Wine Sauce, I have to go to Tulsa to get the seafood. So unfortunately, I don’t make it nearly as often as I would like. I keep saying I’m going to branch out and try major variations of the broth, but I haven’t done it. Besides, this broth is so incredibly flavorful that I don’t need to play around it with too much.
SHOP THIS RECIPE
- 2 pint mussels
- 2 pint clams
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, sliced
- 1 Tablespoon Avocado oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- Fresh parsley, to garnish
- 1 lemon
IF ANY CLAMS/MUSSELS ARE OPEN, TEST THEM FIRST!! Press shell together with thumb and index finger; hold for a second, and then release. OR, shock the shells in a bowl of cold water. If shells close, then they are safe to eat. If they remain open, TOSS THEM
Rinse clams and mussels, and drain in a colander
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in wide bottomed saute pan
- Add onions, and saute over medium-low heat until onions are light golden brown. Remove onions and set aside.
Add remaining butter, plus avocado or olive oil. When butter has melted, add garlic and cook until fragrant, 2-3 minutes.
- Add white wine and red pepper flakes. Bring to low boil
Add clams, cover, and steam until they just open. Remove clams with slotted spoon to reserve broth. Clams will probably not all open at the same time, so just keep an eye on them, and remove as they open.
Add a little more wine, if necessary. Add mussels, cover, and steam until just open. Mussels will open much more quickly than clams.
Turn heat to low, and add clams and onion to pan. Squeeze juice of 1/2 lemon over clams and mussels. For more heat, sprinkle with a little more red pepper flakes
Transfer clams, mussels and broth to serving dish. Garnish with parsley and lemon zest.
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