Baked mussels with crisped bread crumbs come together quickly, with only a few ingredients. Just toss together some bread crumbs, parsley, and garlic then spoon it over mussels. A quick roast and you’re done. Elegance and ease.
This mussel dish is easy enough to make any time, but worthy of taking center place when serving appetizers. I have to admit that, although we almost always eat seafood on Christmas Eve, I’m not fixated on the traditional Italian seven-seafood idea and serve this instead.—Toni Lydecker
Baked Mussels with Crisped Bread Crumbs FAQs
Never eat mussels whose shells are cracked, open, or any that refuse to close their shells when you handle or tap them, those are likely dying or dead. And be sure that they smell like the ocean, briny and like sea air, not fishy. Try to cook the mussels immediately (unwrap them as soon as you get home). If you have to wait, place them in a bowl and cover them with a damp towel so they can breathe.
If you lack bread crumbs, toss 1 or 2 slices of bread, torn into several pieces, in a food processor and pulse until reduced to medium crumbs. If you’re going to make the bread crumbs from fresh bread, toast the slices lightly in a dry skillet or a toaster oven set on low heat just until dry, before whizzing them up.
Baked Mussels with Crisped Bread Crumbs
- 1 cup bread crumbs from fresh or day-old white bread
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 pounds small mussels (about 4 dozen), scrubbed
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Adjust the oven rack to the top position.
- In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs, parsley, and garlic. Season with salt and a few grindings of black pepper. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons olive oil and mix until the bread crumbs are thoroughly moistened.
- Dump the mussels in a large skillet. Cover the skillet and place it over high heat, shaking often, until the mussels start to open. As the mussels open, move them to a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. (Because the mussels will be baked, they need to be heated just long enough to force the shells open.) Snap off the top shells and arrange the mussels so they support each other evenly rather than tilt to one side.
- Drizzle any cooking liquid from the pan over the mussels and into the shells. Spoon the seasoned bread crumbs over the mussels, packing them gently into the shells with the back of the spoon. Drizzle the mussels with a little more olive oil.
- Bake the mussels just until the bread crumbs brown, about 10 minutes. Serve the mussels warm or at room temperature.
Originally published October 7, 2009