Let the mussels soak in a bowl of cold water for an hour, then lift them out, transfer to a colander, and scrub the shells under a cold tap.
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
Pinch of sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons butter
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 cups white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 pounds mussels, soaked and scrubbed
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 baguette, thickly sliced and toasted
1. In a small bowl, use the back of a knife to crush the saffron threads with the sugar until they are pulverized. Add the boiling water and stir well.
2. In a soup pot, melt the butter and cook the shallots and garlic, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the saffron liquid, wine, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
3. Add the mussels, cover with the lid, and steam for 5 to 7 minutes, shaking the pan to redistribute the shells, or until they are all open. Use a large metal spoon to stir the shells near the end of cooking. Discard any mussels that have not opened.
4. Divide the mussels among 4 shallow bowls. Add plenty of cooking liquid to each one. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with toasted French bread. Sheryl Julian