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SEASONAL RECIPES

Recipe: Simmer a pot of mussels in cider and fennel for a quick weeknight dinner

Mussels with Hard Cider and Fennel
Mussels with Hard Cider and FennelKaroline Boehm Goodnick for The Boston Globe

Serves 4

Steamed mussels make a light meal, simple enough for weeknights. Unlike wild mussels, farmed mussels, which are probably what you're buying today, are very clean. Most don't have the little beards you find on the wild mussels (they look like thin threads attached to the shell). If you see some, just pull them off and discard them. The only other thing you have to know about mussels is to toss out any that do not close as you're rinsing and jostling them, or if they don't open after cooking. These mussels go into a soup pot -- you need plenty of room for them to open -- with sauteed shallots, fennel, garlic, and a bit of fresh thyme. Pour in the hard, dry cider and simmer the broth for a few minutes before gently adding the mussels. Finish the broth with cider vinegar, butter, and fresh parsley and serve with crusty bread to mop it all up.

1tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1bulb fresh fennel, halved lengthwise, cored, and chopped
3cloves garlic, finely chopped
1tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2bottles (12 ounces each) hard, dry cider or 1 bottle (22 ounces) hard, dry cider
4pounds mussels, debearded, if necessary, and rinsed well
1tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2tablespoons butter
3tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the shallots and fennel. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.

2. Pour in the hard cider and bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 8 minutes.

3. Add the mussels and stir gently. Cover the pan and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until all the mussels open. Discard any that do not open.

4. Stir in the cider vinegar, butter, and parsley. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper, if you like. Spoon the mussels and the broth into large bowls.

Karoline Boehm Goodnick

Serves 4

Steamed mussels make a light meal, simple enough for weeknights. Unlike wild mussels, farmed mussels, which are probably what you're buying today, are very clean. Most don't have the little beards you find on the wild mussels (they look like thin threads attached to the shell). If you see some, just pull them off and discard them. The only other thing you have to know about mussels is to toss out any that do not close as you're rinsing and jostling them, or if they don't open after cooking. These mussels go into a soup pot -- you need plenty of room for them to open -- with sauteed shallots, fennel, garlic, and a bit of fresh thyme. Pour in the hard, dry cider and simmer the broth for a few minutes before gently adding the mussels. Finish the broth with cider vinegar, butter, and fresh parsley and serve with crusty bread to mop it all up.

1tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1bulb fresh fennel, halved lengthwise, cored, and chopped
3cloves garlic, finely chopped
1tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2bottles (12 ounces each) hard, dry cider or 1 bottle (22 ounces) hard, dry cider
4pounds mussels, debearded, if necessary, and rinsed well
1tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2tablespoons butter
3tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the shallots and fennel. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.

2. Pour in the hard cider and bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 8 minutes.

3. Add the mussels and stir gently. Cover the pan and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until all the mussels open. Discard any that do not open.

4. Stir in the cider vinegar, butter, and parsley. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper, if you like. Spoon the mussels and the broth into large bowls.Karoline Boehm Goodnick