Drunken Mussels

Drunken Mussels

What is it about mussels that makes me want to pack my bags, move to France, live on a sail boat, sip champagne, and don one of those 1960’s bathing suits all day?


I’m not even exaggerating. My food associations make no sense at all.

Drunken Mussels

There is just something about mussels that gets me every single time. They are rustic, but elegant and refined. I can’t get enough of them.

Not to mention, every time I make them I’m reminded of the fact that I do not cook them nearly enough.

Drunken Mussels

If you’ve never made mussels at home, don’t be intimidated by the process. It is really quite easy (check out this post for some tips on buying them and tricks on how to prepare and clean them!)

The absolute worst part of preparing mussels at home is washing and de-bearding them. Luckily most fishmongers take care of this step for you nowadays, and the prep is minimal at best.

Plus, they only take just over 5 minutes to cook! [Why don’t I cook mussels more often again?]

Drunken Mussels

Mussels are probably one of the fastest dishes that you can put on the table.

Throw some nice crusty grilled bread into the picture and you have a pretty delicious dinner that can be made any day of the week.

Drunken Mussels

Aptly named ‘drunken mussels’, these babies are steamed in dark ale and cooked together with sauteed diced carrots, celery root, shallots, butter, and a hefty spoonful of creme fraiche for a touch of richness.

The bitterness and hoppiness of the dark ale pairs really well with the creamy, briny mussels, and fresh parsley and tarragon add just enough color and vibrancy to make the dish shine!

Feel free to serve these in the shell with the broth, or remove the mussels from the shell for easy serving.

Drunken Mussels

Yield: Serves 2

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Print Print Recipe


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely diced carrots
  • 1 cup finely diced celery root
  • 3 medium shallots, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 ounces dark ale
  • 2 lbs fresh mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
  • 3 tablespoons creme fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon flat parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons tarragon, chopped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • crusty bread, grilled


  1. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the carrot, celery root, shallots, and bay leave and saute for 5 to 8 minutes, or until softened. Add the ale and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
  2. Place a large colander over a separate pot and set aside.
  3. Heat a 10-12 inch large, flat-sided saute pan over high heat. Add the mussels and vegetable ail mixture. Cover the pan, shaking it back and forth occasionally, and adjusting the heat as necessary. Cook the mussels until the shells have opened, roughly 3 to 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open.
  4. Strain the mussels through the colander, reserving the cooking liquids. Place the mussels in a large serving bowl, or remove the mussels from the shell (this step will take 5 to 10 minutes).
  5. Reduce the cooking liquid over medium-high heat until reduced to one third volume. Whisk in the creme fraiche and fresh herbs, and season to taste (either no salt or very little salt will be needed). Keep warm.
  6. Pour the cooking liquid over the mussels, and serve with grilled crusty bread.

Use roughly 1 lb of mussels per serving.

Adapted heavily from The Sunday Times 'Mussels Cooked in Ale' (contributed by Tom Kerridge).

30 Responses to “Drunken Mussels”

  1. #
    Rachel — May 29, 2014 @ 7:16 am

    They’re my favourite food, but I know I don’t cook them enough because no one else in my house likes them!

    However, and you’re going to hate me know, I do eat a lot of them because when I’m not bouncing between London and the English countryside, I live in Brittany in Northern France. No week spent at that house is complete without at least one serving!

    • Laura replied: — May 31st, 2014 @ 7:07 pm

      Man, can I move in? Totally jealous of your travels. You must be surrounded by amazing food 24/7.

  2. #
    Tieghan — May 29, 2014 @ 8:38 am

    Never had Mussels. I know, I know! They are a must try this summer. This recipe sounds so good!

    • Laura replied: — May 29th, 2014 @ 5:47 pm

      I forgive you..then again, you are landlocked so that is understandable! Haha!!

  3. #
    Meagan @ A Zesty Bite — May 29, 2014 @ 8:57 am

    Can I face plant in that bowl?! I absolutely love mussels and would love to have that bread covered in them.

    • Laura replied: — May 29th, 2014 @ 5:45 pm

      Haha!! Thanks Meagan!

  4. #
    pippa@popovertopippas — May 29, 2014 @ 9:01 am

    This looks great Laura! I particularly like the photo of the mussels sitting on the ice.

  5. #
    Mimi — May 29, 2014 @ 9:26 am

    Beautiful! And your grilled bread is beautiful as well!!! My stomach just started growling . seriously.

  6. #
    Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps — May 29, 2014 @ 9:56 am

    I’ve been on a total mussel kick lately, although my kick includes ordering them at restaurants, not making them at home. I forget how easy they are! And cheap too. Love these, and love the pictures, just gorgeous as always Laura.

    • Laura replied: — May 31st, 2014 @ 7:05 pm

      Thank you so much Nicole!!!

  7. #
    Meghan @ Cake 'n' Knife — May 29, 2014 @ 10:16 am

    I just got back from a trip to Europe and I was all about the mussels while I was there. I still can’t get enough! I am going to have to try this recipe ASAP to cure my craving :)

    • Laura replied: — May 29th, 2014 @ 5:45 pm

      Jealous!! That sounds like so much fun–thanks Meghan!

  8. #
    Michelle @ Healthy Recipe Ecstasy — May 29, 2014 @ 10:20 am

    I love mussels, and I completely understand the French sailboat/bathing suit thought process. I’ve been dying to make mussels at home but I’ve shied away because I thought it would be too complicated. Glad to know it’s not!

    • Laura replied: — May 31st, 2014 @ 7:07 pm

      Thanks Michelle! It really is easy!

  9. #
    Natalie @ Tastes Lovely — May 29, 2014 @ 10:38 am

    I really should cook mussels more. They seem like they would be intimidating to cook, but you’re right, the fish monger takes care of all the hard parts! Can’t beat 5 minutes of cook time. The broth you made with these sounds like perfection along with grilled bread.

    Your photography is seriously inspiring Laura. Like, whole other level good. Seriously.

    • Laura replied: — May 29th, 2014 @ 5:46 pm

      Exactly! :) Thank you so, so much Natalie! That means the world to me!

  10. #
    Molly @ Yes to Yolks — May 29, 2014 @ 11:23 am

    I couldn’t agree with this sentiment any more: “What is it about mussels that makes me want to pack my bags, move to France, live on a sail boat, sip champagne, and don one of those 1960′s bathing suits all day?” Seriously! They make me feel so sophisticated. These look fabulous!

    • Laura replied: — May 29th, 2014 @ 6:11 pm

      I literally felt like a crazy person when I wrote that!! Haha! So happy to know that sentiment makes sense to someone other than me :)

  11. #
    Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen — May 29, 2014 @ 12:18 pm

    This looks nothing short of amazing! Despite eating them year round, mussels always scream summertime to me!! Also, questioning myself as to why on earth I have never made them at home.

    • Laura replied: — May 31st, 2014 @ 7:05 pm

      Summertime = mussels. I have to work them into my regular meal time.

  12. #
    Farah @ The Cooking Jar — May 29, 2014 @ 1:38 pm

    I adore mussels. I usually make a mussel ‘graveyard’ while eating them, stacking up the shells one on top of the other depicting proudly how many mussels I devoured :) Never had them with grilled bread though and I’ve never dared cooking them at home.

    • Laura replied: — May 31st, 2014 @ 7:06 pm

      Me too!! Haha! Grilled bread is the best–my new fave mussel accompaniment (besides french fries).

  13. #
    Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe — May 29, 2014 @ 2:44 pm

    While I do enjoy mussels, I don’t often crave them, but you’ve made me want them in the worst way! These look divine!

  14. #
    Mom — May 29, 2014 @ 6:00 pm

    This looks and sounds absolutely delicious! Too bad you didn’t include a photo of yourself in the 1960’s bathing costume! Yes, I am one of the ones that is a little intimidated about cooking them at home, although I have added them to bouillabaisse often! I like the combo! Lovely photos!

  15. #
    MB @ Bourbon and Brown Sugar — May 31, 2014 @ 6:29 am

    I’ve always been intimidated by mussels, but love to eat them (have you ever had them at Bistro du Coin in Dupont Circle? Amazing!) You have made them sound to easy to make at home… thanks!

    • Laura replied: — May 31st, 2014 @ 7:06 pm

      I don’t think I’ve been there!! Have to go now!

  16. #
    Helen @ Scrummy Lane — May 31, 2014 @ 5:22 pm

    Once I got over how ugly mussels are and tried them, I realised that I did really like them. Have you ever been to France or Belgium and had moules-frites? Amazing! Love the way you’ve made a sort of crostini with yours. Mmmm!

    • Laura replied: — May 31st, 2014 @ 7:06 pm

      Haha! I have been to France (but not Belgium), but it has been a while! I love moules-frites. So good.

  17. #
    Joanne — June 2, 2014 @ 10:28 pm

    I wish I could get into shellfish so I could really appreciate meals like this! I think it’s a textural thing for me, but I’m picturing all of these flavors together and they just sound so good! If you need a partner to move to france with you – I’m in!

  18. #
    ATasteOfMadness — June 3, 2014 @ 12:15 am

    I have never made mussels before, but this looks SO good! I had no idea how quick it was to make. Which means I have no excuse NOT to make it!

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