French or Belgian Steamed Mussels

Some mussels won’t open during cooking. They should be discarded before serving. This dish is great served with crusty bread.

Serves: 2Hands-on: 20 minutesTotal: 1 hourDifficulty: Easy

Serves: 2


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 lbs. fresh mussels
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped tarragon


  • Fill a very large bowl half full of water that is cool to the touch. Sprinkle the cornmeal across the top of the water and let it settle. Use a plastic bristle brush to remove any dirt or other unwanted debris from the mussels. To remove the beard, place the back of a butter knife on one side of the beard and your thumb on the other side. Pinch the beard between your thumb and the knife and pull using a side-to-side motion.
  • Place mussels into the bowl. Shake the bowl every few minutes to keep the cornmeal floating. Let them sit in the water for 30 minutes. Every 10 minutes gently nudge the bowl to create waves. The mussels should expel any dirt they have stored and replace it with the cornmeal.
  • Place a Dutch oven over medium heat and add the butter. Add the onions and stir to coat in butter. Stir frequently until they are mostly translucent. Add the garlic and stir. Cook for 3–4 minutes. Add the wine and herbs. Cover and bring to a boil.
  • Remove the lid and gently add mussels to the pan, leaving the dirt in the bottom of the bowl. When all of the mussels are added, increase the heat to high and cook for 3–4 minutes.
  • Scoop the mussels into bowls and keep them warm. Let the liquid in the pan continue to boil for 5–10 minutes until reduced by half. Pour the liquid and onions over the mussels.