🌟 Elegant and delicious, steamed saffron mussels will wow your guests

🌟 Saffron can be expensive, but Eric Scott has a substitute

 🌟 Perfect for your seven fishes feast

If you are still looking for that perfect holiday menu for Christmas or New Year's Eve, here is another great addition to whatever you are serving.

This is a great option if you are doing the seven fishes.

Sandra and I recently enjoyed an evening of cooking and fellowship at Bill and Jodi Spadea's home, and this is another of the dishes I prepared for the evening.

Steamed Saffron Mussels

This savory dish combines the salty brine of fresh mussels with the deep, rich flavor of saffron and creates a broth that is perfect for dipping.

About Mussels

Mussels are inexpensive and readily available year-round in New Jersey.

They have gotten somewhat of a bad reputation for being difficult to clean, but most of the fresh mussels you will find at the supermarket are farm raised and come pretty clean.

While you may occasionally find fresh wild mussels. There is little difference in flavor and texture, but a big difference in cleaning.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration

Farm raised mussels often need just a little rinse to clean. You may occasionally find what is known as the 'beard' still attached to the shell. Just pinch it between your fingers and pull it along the shell to remove.

Discard any mussels that are not fully closed or do not close when you give them a gentle tap.

READ MORE: Eric Scott's corn chowder recipe

About Saffron

Saffron is one of my all-time favorite culinary spices. Unfortunately, it can be ridiculously expensive. In my opinion, though, it's worth it.

Saffron fronds are actually the stamens of the crocus flower. It takes over 50,000 flowers to produce just one pound of saffron.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration

Yeah, that's why its so expensive.

For good Spanish saffron, you can pay up to $50 per ounce.

A pound of saffron can wholesale for over $10,000. Yikes.

Fortunately, there is an adequate substitute.

About 1/4 tsp of ground Turmeric will give you a similar taste and color as a pinch of saffron.

Shopping list

2 pounds fresh mussels
1 cup white wine (I use a buttery Chardonnay)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 medium onion (diced)
1/2 medium red pepper (diced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 slice tavern ham (1/4 inch thick/diced)
1 pinch saffron fronds (can substitute 1/4 tsp ground turmeric)
1 tbsp olive oil

How to make steamed saffron mussels


For the maximum amount of flavor, I let the saffron fronds steep in the white wine. To do this, place the wine in a bowl and take a small pinch of saffron. Rub the frond between your thumb and forefinger (over the bowl) and allow the ground fronds to fall into the wine. Leave it for about 20 minutes.

In a large pot, over medium heat, add a tbsp of olive oil.

Sauté the onion, red pepper and garlic for 3-4 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and the diced ham.

As the broth comes to a simmer, slowly add the white wine and stir.

Bring the entire mixture to a low boil and add the mussels.

Cover and allow the mussels to cook for 5-6 minutes.

As soon as the mussels open, remove from heat and immediately ladle into a bowl.

Make sure you add a generous portion of broth and your ham and vegetables.

Serve with a crusty bread for dipping.


Spadea's Pot Roast Recipe

Spadea's Best Omelette Recipe

Great Jersey Fresh summer dinner recipe

Gallery Credit: Dennis Malloy

Report a correction | Contact our newsroom

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM