I usually steam mussels in a covered Dutch oven, so I was intrigued when I saw this recipe in the September-October 2013 issue of Cook’s Illustrated. It suggests steaming the mussels in a roasting pan in the oven. This prevents overcrowding, which can prevent some mussels from opening during cooking. I tried it, and it worked very well; nearly every mussel opened and they were tender and flavourful. This would be a great way to prepare mussels for a larger group of people.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Looks for a white wine with a sulfite level below 10 parts per million and butter than contains only cream.

Wash and debeard mussels

Bay leaves, onion and thyme flavour the broth

Bring the bay leaves, onion, thyme and wine to a simmer on stovetop

Add the mussels to the roasting pan

Cover the pan tightly with foil

The mussels are ready in about 15 minutes

Whisk in some butter

Toss with parsley and serve


1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

4 pounds (1.8 kg) mussels, scrubbed and debearded

¼ teaspoon (1 ml) salt

2 tablespoons (30 ml) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

2 tablespoons (30 ml) minced fresh parsley


Prior to cooking, discard any mussel with an unpleasant odor or with a cracked or broken shell or a shell that won’t close.

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 500 degrees F (260 C). Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in large roasting pan over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves and bring to boil. Cook until wine is slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Add mussels and salt. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and transfer to oven. Cook until most mussels have opened, 15 to 18 minutes.

Remove pan from oven. Push mussels to sides of pan. Add butter to center and whisk until melted. Discard thyme sprigs, bay leaves and any mussels that did not open. Sprinkle parsley over mussels, and toss to combine. Serve immediately, with crusty bread to mop of the juices. Serves 2-4.

From the September-October 2013 issue of Cook’s Illustrated