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Portuguese-Style Mussels in Garlic Cream Sauce

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 2-4 servings


  • 2 pounds fresh mussels, see below for preparation.
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup shallots, chopped small
  • 3 tablespoons fresh garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Pimenta Moida, jarred crushed hot peppers
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced small
  • Zest from half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley minced, divided
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • ½ cup white wine, preferably Riesling
  • 8 ounce bottle clam juice
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • French bread, sliced and toasted
  • Garlic clove to rub on toasted bread


  1. To prepare mussels, scrub shells with a soft brush to remove any barnacles or scale. De-beard by pulling on the “beard” that protrudes from some of the shells and twist back and forth to remove. Do all of this while running under cold water. Any shells that stay open, discard. Keep mussels refrigerated until ready to use.
  2. In a large sauté pan or skillet, melt butter and oil over medium heat and add shallots and cook for two minutes.
  3. Add garlic, hot peppers, plum tomatoes, lemon zest, thyme and one tablespoon of parsley. Cook for five minutes.
  4. Add lemon juice and stir mixture.
  5. Add wine and cook for two minutes to reduce liquid by half.
  6. Add clam juice, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for five minutes.
  7. Increase heat to medium high, add mussels, cover and cook for two to three minutes or until mussels open.
  8. Remove from heat and remove mussels to a serving bowl using a spider or strainer, leaving liquid and solids behind in the pan.
  9. Return the pan to the heat and add cream and cook over medium high for two minutes.
  10. Remove from heat and stir in the two tablespoons of butter.
  11. Pour this mixture over the mussels and sprinkle the remaining parsley over the finished dish.
  12. Serve hot with toasted French bread slices that have been rubbed with garlic.
  13. Discard any mussels that do not open.